In ordinary times, an American on the verge of winning for the third time on a tour featuring some of the world’s best players would automatically be part of the Ryder Cup narrative.
These are far from ordinary times. Talor Gooch, a two-time winner on LIV Golf this season, will begin the final round at Valderrama one stroke from the lead. He has had no interaction with Zach Johnson, the US Ryder Cup captain, less than three months out from the meeting with Europe in Rome. Because the LIV tour has been excluded from the Ryder Cup points process, Gooch sits 83rd in the standings.
Gooch hoped the recent amalgamation between previously warring entities would enhance his case but does not sound altogether confident. He said: “A few weeks back when I woke up one morning, had 137 texts on my phone when the news had broken of the merger, my immediate thought was, ‘I wonder what this means for the Ryder Cup.’
“If apples were to apples, the guy leading the FedEx Cup [on the PGA Tour] and the guy leading the LIV standings … I think my play has shown that it’s at least worth a discussion. The better I play, the more that is just going to be a discussion hopefully. I’ve got to go win, and I’ve got to go prove that I’m worthy of having a discussion about.”
Gooch’s 65 moved him to eight under. Bryson DeChambeau enjoyed an even better Saturday, his 63 ensuring a total of minus nine. Brooks Koepka – who is likely to qualify for the Ryder Cup because of major performances – is six under, two clear of Dustin Johnson.
“You’ve got a major champion and then a guy that won two LIV events in a row,” said DeChambeau of his final-round pairing with Koepka and Gooch. “They’re going to be biting at the heels. I’ve just got to be steadfast, in my own little zone and get after it.”