‘No matter where I was in the world, I was going to call him’: LIV winner’s emotional move

Talor Gooch on Saturday at the Sentosa Golf Club in Singapore.

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Talor Gooch, no matter where you stand on things, has seen some things over the past year or so. We’ll try to be brief. 

There was the win in November of 2021 at the RSM Classic, his first on the PGA Tour. There was last year’s PGA Championship, at Southern Hills in Oklahoma, his home state. About a month later, there was the move to LIV Golf. 

And there’s been all that’s entailed in playing for the Saudi-backed series. And there were court cases, plural. And there was some awkwardness. LIV plays a team format. And after Gooch’s team had won an event, he compared it all to being a part of a Ryder Cup, and he was fileted online. There’s more. 

Gooch’s also played some golf, too. His team won LIV’s team championship last year. This year, he’s winning. Last week, in Australia, Gooch opened up a 10-shot lead (!) after the first two rounds, before hanging on to win for the first time on his new circuit. This week, LIV was in Singapore. He won again, in a playoff. 

LIV also pays well. Last week, he cashed for $4 mill. This week, he cashed for $4 mill. And that’s a lot.   

“You just try to bottle it up and make it last as long as possible,” Gooch said afterward. “I know that I’m not going to continue playing this level of golf forever. So you just enjoy it while it comes and try to make it last as long as you can. And when it goes away, you try to get back on the train as quickly as possible. So you try to savor these moments and try to feel these feelings and emotions and try to remember ’em so that when they go away, you can really get back as quickly as possible.”

And then there are the phone calls. 

It’s here where we’ll introduce you to Ron Gooch. He once played minor league baseball. The younger Gooch will fill in the rest. 

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“I was so, so fortunate that my dad — he was a man of action and not of words, and he never forced me or pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to do in sports,” Talor Gooch said a few years back on the Better Than I Found It podcast. “But we always kind of had a family rule of, if we’re going to do something, we’re going to bust our butt, and we’re going to make sure it’s worthwhile. My parents, I never needed for anything growing up, but my parents made a lot of sacrifices for me to be able to chase this dream. And so I was aware of that. I didn’t want to waste that opportunity that my parents sacrificed to give me. 

“Kind of a funny story: One of the biggest moments in my golfing career is, legitimately, playing racquetball with my dad. When I was probably a freshman in high school, we started playing racquetball at the local Y in Oklahoma City. My dad was 50-ish at the time, so he wasn’t a young, spry man, but he was a really good athlete and still to this day plays racquetball and is active. So he was whooping my butt. And I’m extremely, extremely competitive. I especially don’t like losing to my dad in something. So after about a year and a half, I’m still getting my butt whooped in racquetball and I broke a racquet. 

“And it did not go over well with my dad, and quickly I learned after that, this anger and this frustration when I’m playing racquetball, it’s not helping me play any better, it’s not helping me beat my dad, and I thought to myself, I maybe need to change my attitude. And then sure enough, soon after that, I was able to kind of channel that frustration into some positive energy and I started to beat him a little bit. 

“And that kind of translated to golf because, like a lot of junior golfers, I was competitive; I had some anger problems, if you will; whether it was throw a club here or there, or I would just get so, so frustrated, it would overtake me. It was just funny the parallels between the racquetball frustration and the golf frustration. It took me getting whooped by my dad and learning how to manage my anger and frustration in racquetball to then do the same thing with golf. 

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“It sounds funny, but if it wasn’t for my dad and racquetball, I don’t know if I would have, as early on, how to kind of manage my emotions on the golf course.”

Back to the phone calls. 

Before every round, Talor talks to Ron. In Singapore, a person on site noticed that son rang up dad near the tee box. 

“I’ve always done it since I’ve been pro basically,” Talor said. “My dad isn’t able to come out to all the tournaments; like back in college golf and amateur and junior golf, he would come out to as many as he could. Obviously with the travel being crazy, he doesn’t get out as often. So kind of made it a routine that no matter where I was in the world, I was going to call him before each round. And so 10 minutes before we tee off, I just step aside and give him a call and it’s just kind of our routine.”

What did they talk about Sunday?

“Yeah, he just says, ‘Hey, go have some fun. Go hit a bunch of fairways. They can’t eat you out there, so go enjoy it,’” Talor said. “It’s kind of pretty boring, honestly, but it’s cool and we enjoy it.”

You’re free to draw your own conclusions here. On Gooch. On LIV. Gooch, as noted at the start, has seen some things over the past year or so. But if you’re wondering why he’s winning now, it’s maybe this. 

Dad’s heard about it all, too. 

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Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at Golf.com and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at nick.piastowski@golf.com.