With U.S. Open spot on the line, Talor Gooch misses cut at 2023 PGA Championship

With U.S. Open spot on the line, Talor Gooch misses cut at 2023 PGA Championship
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PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Talor Gooch found himself at the center of professional golf’s ugly divide, as the polarizing embodiment of LIV Golf’s quest for world ranking points.

Gooch, a two-time winner this year on LIV Golf, qualified for last year’s Tour Championship on the PGA Tour, which has historically been the standard for invitations into the majors. But for this year’s U.S. Open, the USGA altered its exemptions to include anyone who qualified for the 2022 Tour Championship and was eligible. (Last month, Augusta National announced a similar policy for next year’s Masters.) Gooch wasn’t eligible for East Lake after he was suspended by the Tour for violating the circuit’s conflicting-event release policy after joining LIV Golf.

The only other legitimate avenue into next month’s U.S. Open was via the top 60 in the world ranking (by May 23 or June 6). Gooch entered this week at 63rd and, with no other shot at gaining world ranking points, needed a decent week at the PGA Championship to qualify.

Full-field scores from the PGA Championship

Instead, Gooch struggled with his driver – hitting just 12 of 28 fairways – and his irons – 14 of 36 greens in regulation – and finished at 10 over, following rounds of 76-74, to miss the cut.

“Obviously I was hopeful that would be the case, but I knew with all the craziness in golf happening right now there might be stuff like this that would happen, so honestly it’s not surprising,” Gooch said of missing the U.S. Open.

Gooch could have been granted a special exemption by the USGA to play the championship, but USGA CEO Mike Whan dismissed that.  Gooch also could have attempted sectional qualifying for the U.S. Open, but he didn’t sign up for the 36-hole tournament.

When asked if his decision to not sign up for qualifying was based on the USGA’s decision to not offer him a special exemption Gooch said, “A little bit of that.”

“Also, our (LIV) schedule is busy, locked up right now. If I didn’t qualify via world ranking, I just felt like we have a lot of tournaments coming up. It’s time to focus on that,” he added.

LIV Golf is scheduled to play next week in Washington D.C., but after that the next event isn’t until June 30. Most of the one-day sectional qualifying events are held June 5.

Gooch is qualified to play The Open at Royal Liverpool, because that major accepts the top 30 in last year’s FedExCup standings (regardless of PGA Tour eligibility). He has also become one of the more outspoken proponents of LIV Golf’s push for world ranking points.

“I haven’t heard anything that it would or wouldn’t [get ranking points]. I’m not optimistic about it,” Gooch said. “I think the majors know what’s best for them is the best players in the world playing. It will all work out how it should, I just don’t know what that looks like now.”

LIV Golf applied for world-ranking points last July and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh, one of four remaining world ranking governing board members who will decide if that application is approved, said earlier this week it’s an ongoing process.

“There is no magic to 12 months [for the application process]. It’s just sort of most of these, certainly since I’ve been around, have taken more time than I think was assumed early on. That’s where it is,” Waugh said. “This is not an us-versus-them. I think the [world ranking], if you take a step back, the whole point is to create a level playing field, a yardstick by which to measure the game. Our job is to measure tours. Not players but tours and how they perform on those tours to come up with that yardstick. That’s what we’re all attempting to try to do.”

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley and European tour COO Keith Waters are members of the world ranking governing board but recused themselves from the LIV Golf application process.

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