LIV Golf's Talor Gooch claimed that the USGA "retroactively" changed its qualifications for the 2023 U.S. Open, and as a result, made him no longer exempt into the tournament. Now, the USGA is denying those claims.
Gooch, who won his maiden LIV Golf victory last week in Adelaide, went on the 73rd Hole Podcast following his victory where he explained his beliefs on his major tournament status:
Related: LIV Golf's Taylor Gooch OUT of U.S. Open with rule change: "It only affects me!"
"I was hopeful after Augusta came out and announced their field – they announced that I was in the field via my world ranking but also via qualifying for the Tour Championship.
He then added:
"So when Augusta came out and made that decision, I was very optimistic that everybody else would follow suit."
However, the USGA did not follow the same guidelines as The Masters, and, as a result, Gooch did not earn an automatic exemption into the major.
He told the podcast:
"The USGA decided to go in a different direction and retroactively changed that rule. Basically the rule now within the USGA states that you have to qualify for the Tour Championship and also be eligible to play.
"That was obviously disappointing because that changed rule only affected one person, which was me, 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 US Open
: via my world ranking, which is going to be very challenging, or trying to obviously go through the qualifying route of sectional qualifying."
On Friday, a USGA spokesperson clarified the situation to Golf Digest and denied Gooch's claim that changes were made "retroactively." They said:
"The USGA annually reviews its exemption criteria for all championships, and we did for the 2023 U.S. Open. Importantly, we provided more clarity to a specific exemption category to reflect that players must be both qualified and eligible for the Tour Championship, beginning with the 2023 U.S. Open.
"The change was not made retroactively, but rather as a part of our annual review process and included within several other changes made to the criteria for the upcoming 2023 championship.”"
The Masters has also recently adjusted its qualifications for the 2024 tournament, saying exemptions include players who qualify "and are eligible to play" in the PGA Tour's Tour Championship, per Golf Digest.
Gooch is currently on Sentosa Island for the LIV Golf Singapore event which he leads by one stroke after the first round.
Related: LIV Golf Singapore: Leader Talor Gooch explains his pixie dust theory
And while he may need to find a new route to gain access to the U.S. Open in June, he did recently receive an invitation to a sooner major championship:
The PGA Championship is set for mid-May at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
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