It wasn’t pretty but Talor Gooch gallantly held on to capture a maiden LIV Golf title with his victory on The Grange course in Adelaide.
Gooch, 31, went into the third and final round leading by a massive 10 shots but the pressure seemed to get to the American who found himself at three-over for his round with still eight holes to play.
However, to his credit, the Oklahoma-born Gooch held firm in posting a closing round score of a one-over 73 for a 19-under par victory total in the South Australian capital.
India’s Aniban Lahiri came from 11 shots adrift of Gooch heading into the last day, signing for an eight-under 64 to grab second place at 16-under-par.
Four players – home favourite and Open Champion Cam Smith (66), Patrick Reed (65), Pat Perez (66) and Cameron Tringale (67) – shared third place at 15-under.
Gooch joined LIV as the PGA Tour’s 2021 RSM Classic winner and was at the Centurion Club, outside of London, in June last year for the historic opening event of the LIV Tour. He secured a then best finish in his 10 events ahead of arriving in Australia in just the second event in 2022 with a T7th in Portland.
Now on a second competitive visit ‘Down Under’ Gooch is a champion, albeit with after a shaky last day that included three birdies but also a pair of bogeys and a double at the par-5 10th hole but after a bounce-back birdie on 11, Gooch held on for still what is an impressive victory.
“I had to dig deep on the back nine and like I’ve said for the last couple of days, winning on any Tour is hard and winning on this type of golf course, and in front of this type of a crowd is not easy”, said Gooch.
“There were a couple of moments where it got shaky and you know that is going to happen, but you can’t go three days on this type of golf course and not make mistakes.
“So, when I made the birdie on 11, and after the double at 1o, that was time to dig deep and go get a victory.
“I knew after what happened on 10, I was still in the lead as I had eight holes to go. I had played such great golf and really today I didn’t make too many bad swings, but it’s just the way it goes sometimes. So, I just recomposed myself and said ‘Hey! You’re playing great golf. You’ve got the lead. Let’s go win this tournament’
“It was pretty easy for me after the birdie on 11, to just focus on the remaining seven holes.
“It’s been an incredible week here in Adelaide and I can’t wait to be back”.
And with LIV Golf heading to Gooch’s home state of Oklahoma from May 12-14, he now has an extra special reason when he tees-up on the Cedar Ridge host course in Tulsa.
“Oklahoma better show-up for me, they better show up for LIV as I’m now extra excited to be heading to Tulsa, as it’s going to be a blast, and hopefully we get both an individual and a team victory”, he said smiling.
Though disappointingly Gooch’s last round was not good enough to celebrate what would have been a fifth team victory for his Range Goats team, who finished runner-up to The Four Aces side of Dustin Johnson, Peter Uihlein and Reed, who were handed the champers winning by a shot with a combined 54-hole tally of 47-under.
Aussie hero Smith, though speaking of feeling worn-out, was still full of praise in the decision to bring the tournament to Australia, and with the event clearly an overwhelming success
“Yeah, I feel pretty exhausted”, said the Open Champion. “It was a big week to get through with lots of commitments and the fans. It’s so cool to have those people behind you, but it’s also really draining, as well, having the ovations on every green and tee. Yeah, it was an epic week but a very tiring week.
“I really hope it’s bigger to be honest. I think we do more stuff, get more people in here. There’s obviously a want in Australia, I think, for really high-quality golf, and I think the fans here really enjoyed what LIV offers. Yeah, there’s no reason why we can’t make it bigger.
Chase Koepka, and brother to Brooks, helped generate the wildest scenes ever in the history of Australian golf after acing the par-3 12th hole, affectionately named ‘The Watering Hole’ for the week.
Fans reacted in showering Koepka and his playing partners Ian Poulter and Paul Casey with one of the biggest and wettest beer and water showers you’ve ever seen.
Though no applause for Graeme McDowell, ruining his hopes of a best LIV finish, heading into the closing round just two shots off second place but crashing down the board under the weight of a two-over 74 for a distant share of 38th place at six-under.
Sticking out like the proverbial dog’s hind leg on McDowell’s scorecard is a ‘10’ at the par-5 10th hole.
The LIV Golf stars now head north to Singapore for Friday’s start LIV Singapore, and also a first time in the country, and where they will be competing at the famed Sentosa club, long-time host to the Singapore Open.
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