Talor Gooch, a former member of 4Aces GC who joined Bubba Watson’s RangeGoats GC in the offseason, completed a wire-to-wire victory April 23 at LIV Golf Adelaide. Meanwhile, his old team captured its first trophy of the 2023 LIV Golf League.
Dustin Johnson’s 4Aces, which had podium finishes in the first three events of the season, produced a sizzling final round in a tight team battle at The Grange Golf Club. With Patrick Reed shooting a 7-under 65, new member Peter Uihlein contributing a 66 and Johnson adding a 67 (Pat Perez shot the same score), the Aces finished with a LIV Golf-record 47 under to win by a stroke over the RangeGoats. The all-South African Stinger GC took third.
Last year, the all-American 4Aces won four regular-season events and the Miami Team Championship, all on home soil. Their performance in Adelaide was their most dominant, with all four members finishing in the top 10 in points.
“Obviously, it was a great week,” said Johnson, whose team increased its lead atop the season-long points standings to 44 points. “All four guys played well. To get our first win outside the U.S. was nice.”
Gooch, meanwhile, had to endure some tight moments despite entering the day with a 10-shot lead thanks to consecutive 10-under 62s. A four-hole stretch in which he suffered his first two bogeys of the week, followed by a double bogey at the par-5 10th, whittled his deficit. At one point, he led by only two shots.
But after his double bogey, he responded with birdies at the 11th and 13th holes to restore some breathing room, then parred in the rest of the way for a 1-over 73, leaving him at 19 under for the tournament. That ties the all-time LIV Golf best score for three rounds.
“Golf is just really hard,” said Gooch as he proudly cradled the LIV Golf trophy while wearing the Goat Chain, his team’s nod to winning performances. “It’s hard to put back-to-back days together like I did and even harder to do it three times in a row. I actually played fine out there today. The golf gods, I think, said, ‘We don’t want this first win to be easy on you.’
“Had a couple bad breaks here and there, so it made things interesting, but it was cool to kind of overcome the adversity and dig deep after I made a double on No. 10. It was kind of a point of we’re either going to dig deep and do this or you’re going to stumble coming in. It was cool to dig deep and get the job done.”
Crushers GC’s Anirban Lahiri shot a 65 to claim second place at 16 under while four players tied for third at 15 under: Reed, Perez, Cameron Tringale of HyFlyers GC and Cameron Smith, the captain of Rippers GC, the all-Australian team that were the crowd favorites this week. Reed took third in points via the tiebreaker.
“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,” Smith said. “There’s no reason why we can’t make it bigger.”
While Gooch is used to celebrating team titles as a member of the 4Aces last year, he was hoping to celebrate another one with his new team. Although the RangeGoats came up one shot short, the podium finish was their first as a team.
“It was frustrating that we couldn’t get the win for sure, but it was a step in the right direction for us as a team,” Gooch said. “I think it’s just a matter of time before we’re up on that podium.”
CHASE WITH 2ND LIV ACE: Smash GC’s Chase Koepka recorded the second hole-in-one in LIV Golf with his ace at the 150-yard par-3 12th on Sunday. The celebration was as momentous as the shot.
The 12th, otherwise known as The Watering Hole, is completely circled by stands and fans. When Koepka’s ball rolled in the cup, fans celebrated by showering Koepka with beer on the tee box while he chest-bumped his caddie as well as playing partners Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
“A once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Koepka, who used a 9-iron to record the sixth hole-in-one of his career. “It’s something to always remember. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I can just say that. I don’t know if I can duplicate what I just did out there, but it’ll be really cool coming back here because I know everyone will remember it.”
Last year, Matthew Wolff recorded LIV’s first ace in Boston.