SENTOSA ISLAND, Singapore – In becoming the first back-to-back winner in LIV Golf history, Talor Gooch took two distinctly different paths to success.
A week ago in Australia, he built a huge lead after two rounds, then held on for the victory. On Sunday at LIV Golf Singapore presented by Resorts World Sentosa, Gooch won via birdie on the first playoff hole against Sergio Garcia. The victory moves Gooch to the top of the individual points standings as he joins Brooks Koepka as LIV Golf’s only two-time winners.
Unlike last week at LIV Golf Adelaide, Gooch was able to celebrate two trophies at Sentosa Golf Club, as his RangeGoats GC also won the team title for the first time, shooting a cumulative 12 under on Sunday to finish at 37 under for the week, three strokes ahead of Garcia’s Fireballs GC.
“We’ve been talking about being up there on the podium,” Gooch said. “I’ve been telling them how much I’m going to spray ‘em in the face with champagne for a long time now. We knew it was coming and it was only a matter of time.”
The RangeGoats become the seventh different team to win a LIV Golf event, and the fifth different team to win this season in as many events. Last week, the RangeGoats came up one shot short of the 4Aces, who lead the season-long team standings this year.
RangeGoats Captain Bubba Watson added Gooch to his lineup in the offseason to join good friend Harold Varner III. Newcomer Thomas Pieters also joined the team.
“Thank you for stepping up and wanting to be part of the Goats,” Watson said as he stood with his teammates. “This is an honor and a privilege to be here and be alongside these guys. It’s special. They wanted to be on the team. They wanted to be on my team.”
When severe weather halted play for one hour with four holes to play Sunday, the RangeGoats trailed the Fireballs by one stroke. Once play resumed, Varner provided two key birdies as part of his contributing 6-under 65. One of those birdies was a chip-in on his restart hole.
“Every time we had a delay this week,” Varner said, “Bubba was like, ‘Hey, give me some good shots.’ And I walked up to the table and I said, ‘I’m going to walk over there and I’m going to chip this in after we go back.’ And that’s what happened.”
Individually, Gooch and Garcia were tied at 16 when play resumed. Garcia dropped a stroke at the 15th hole, missing a short par putt, but bounced back with a birdie on the next hole. Both players birdied the par-5 18th to finish at 17 under and set up the playoff, the fourth in LIV Golf history and the second this season.
Gooch took an aggressive line on the 18th, his tee ball finishing just steps from the water. But it set up a second shot that found the green. Meanwhile, Garcia’s second shot landed in a greenside bunker. A difficult third shot came up short and finished in the rough just above the bunker. After Gooch two-putted for birdie, Garcia could not hole his birdie chip.
“It’s one of those days that I’ll remember,” said Gooch. “I grew up watching Sergio. He’s one of the greatest golfers of this generation. To go and battle with him and come out on top is something I’ll never forget.”
Here are the standings and counting scores for Sunday’s final round of the team competition at LIV Golf Singapore presented by Resorts World Sentosa. The three best scores from each team count in every round for their total team score. The team with the lowest cumulative score after three rounds wins the team title.
1. RANGEGOATS GC (-37): Harold Varner III 65, Talor Gooch 67, Thomas Pieters 69 (Rd. 3 score: -12)
2. FIREBALLS GC (-34): Eugenio Chacarra 64, Sergio Garcia 67, Carlos Ortiz 69 (Rd. 3 score: -13)
3. CRUSHERS GC (-32): Charles Howell III 63, Paul Casey 63, Anirban Lahiri 67 (Rd. 3 score: -20)
4. TORQUE GC (-31): Joaquin Niemann 66, Mito Pereira 66, Sebastián Muñoz 70 (Rd. 3 score: -11)
5. SMASH GC (-30): Jason Kokrak 66, Matthew Wolff 67, Brooks Koepka 67 (Rd. 3 score: -13)
6. RIPPER GC (-29): Marc Leishman 68, Jediah Morgan 68, Cameron Smith 70 (Rd. 3 score: -7)
7. IRON HEADS GC (-28): Scott Vincent 67, Kevin Na 69, Danny Lee 70 (Rd. 3 score: -7)
8. HYFLYERS GC (-28): Brendan Steele 66, Phil Mickelson 72, Cameron Tringale 72 (Rd. 3 score: -3)
9. 4ACES GC (-27): Peter Uihlein 66, Patrick Reed 67, Pat Perez 69 (Rd. 3 score: -11)
10. STINGER GC (-16): Dean Burmester 69, Louis Oosthuizen 70, Charl Schwartzel 70 (Rd. 3 score: -4)
11. MAJESTICKS GC (-15): Ian Poulter 66, Laurie Canter 68, Lee Westwood 69 (Rd. 3 score: -10)
12. CLEEKS GC (-15): Richard Bland 68, Graeme McDowell 69, Bernd Wiesberger 70 (Rd. 3 score: -6)
VINCENT’S BIG WEEK: Iron Heads GC’s Scott Vincent came two strokes short of making the playoff with Talor Gooch and Sergio Garcia, but the solo fourth at 15 under is his best result in 12 regular-season starts in LIV Golf.
“I think I did a really good job of staying patient and just ticking the holes over and sticking to my game plan,” said the 30-year-old from Zimbabwe. “To end up two shots short of a playoff means you did a lot of things really well. So I'm really happy with how that went.”
Last summer, Vincent won an International Series event on the Asian Tour that gained him access to LIV Golf’s London event, and now he’s made the most of it. He played the entire inaugural season, then won the International Series Order of Merit to claim full playing privileges this season on Kevin Na’s team.
Now he’s 21st in the points standings. The top 24 at the end of the season are guaranteed spots for 2024.
“These are the type of situations that we want to be in more and more, because that's how you get better at it,” Vincent said “So I continue to use all this as a learning platform for me and I still hope that my game continues to rise to an even higher level. And that's the route that we're on and that we're chasing. So, yeah, this is just a lot of the steps along the way.”
MAJESTICK ACE BY CANTER: Laurie Canter was in between clubs at the 185-yard par-3 17th, trying to decide between a 7- or 8-iron. He opted for the 7, and then wasn’t happy with his shot … until it rolled into the cup for a hole-in-one.
“I just missed it a little, so I was sort of screaming at it to stay in the air,” said Canter, playing for Majesticks GC as a reserve for injured Sam Horsfield. “When I watched it back, I couldn't believe how far it pitched on the green. It's not the best shot I hit all day, but obviously delighted with the result.”
It’s the third ace in LIV Golf history and the second in consecutive weeks after Chase Koepka’s hole-in-one at The Watering Hole 12th last week at LIV Golf Adelaide.
While the celebration wasn’t as raucous on Sunday, Canter did throw down his club in the same fashion as Koepka. “It was just what came to me at the time,” Canter said. “I think it was as much shock as anything, to be honest.”
DOUBLE 63S FOR CRUSHERS: Crushers GC posted a 20-under team counting score on Sunday. Their 193 total ties the LIV Golf record for lowest team score in a single round, and is the second-lowest round relative to par for any team.
The RangeGoats shot 23-under 193 in the second round last week in Adelaide.
Leading the Crushers on Sunday were Charles Howell III and Paul Casey, who each shot 8-under 63. Anirban Lahiri provided the third counting score with a 67.
Howell’s 63 moved him into a tie for eighth on the tournament’s individual leaderboard and matches the season-low 63 he shot in the final round to win the season opener at Mayakoba.
“The round itself was very similar to that one,” Howell said. “This was a bit of a back-door top 10 where Mayakoba had a different pressure on it.”
NON-PODIUM FOR 4ACES: For the first time this season, the point-leading 4Aces GC did not finish on the podium as one of the top three teams.
Dustin Johnson’s team started the final round eighth on the team leaderboard and dropped a spot despite shooting a cumulative 11 under as a team. Only the top eight teams in the standings receive points.
With 96 points, the 4Aces still enjoy a healthy lead in the season-long standings, 32 points ahead of second-place Torque GC. The team-winning RangeGoats GC moved to fourth place in the standings, with Fireballs GC in third.
Driving distance – Mito Pereira, 321.7-yard average
Longest drive – Dean Burmester, 335.0 yards (18th hole)
Driving accuracy – Dean Burmester, 86% (12 of 14)
Greens in regulation – Mito Pereira, 100% (18 of 18)
Fewest putts – Charles Howell III, Sihwan Kim, 25 putts
Most birdies – Paul Casey, 9
Bogey-free rounds – Charles Howell III (63), Brendan Steele (66), Mito Pereira (66), Brooks Koepka (67), Patrick Reed (67), Anirban Lahiri (67), Matthew Wolff (67)
Lowest score: Paul Casey, Charles Howell III, 63