Fresh off a $4 million payday and his first LIV Golf title, Talor Gooch should be on cloud nine.
Instead, the 31-year-old American is irked about a rule change that could keep him out of the 2023 U.S. Open.
Appearing on the “73rd Hole” podcast, Gooch said he thought he had locked up his spot in the June 15-18 major at Los Angeles Country Club last August by qualifying for the 2022 Tour Championship on the PGA Tour.
At the time, players who qualified for the Tour Championship received invites or exemptions to the Masters, the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, which is how Gooch was able to play at Augusta National earlier this month.
“When Augusta came out and made that decision, I was very optimistic that everybody else would follow suit,” Gooch said.
But when the U.S. Golf Association published its qualifying criteria for the U.S. Open in February, there was a small but important change in the language from previous years.
Per Golf Digest, the criteria used to read “those players qualifying for the season-ending Tour Championship” but now reads “those players who qualified and were eligible for the season-ending 2022 Tour Championship.”
When Gooch and others departed for LIV Golf last June, they were banned from playing at the Tour Championship and therefore were not eligible.
“That was obviously disappointing because that changed rule only affected one person, which was me,” Gooch said. “So that was frustrating and tough because with LIV still not being rewarded with World Ranking points, I have only two options to qualify for the U.S. Open: via my World Ranking, which is going to be very challenging, or trying to obviously go through the qualifying route of sectional qualifying.”
Despite his win last weekend in Adelaide, Australia, Gooch’s world ranking actually dropped from No. 57 to No. 59 this week. He must remain in the top 60 to earn a spot in the U.S. Open field.
“I’m hopeful that my ranking stays high enough for the next month that I get in,” he said. “Time will tell on that.”
On the plus side, Gooch is still listed as exempt for the 151st Open Championship scheduled for July 20-23 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.