Talor Gooch questions validity of Masters victory after snub

Still smarting over not being invited to this April's Masters Tournament, Talor Gooch said the idea of basing majors eligibility on the Official World Golf Ranking is antiquated.

Gooch, the LIV Golf League individual champion in 2023, isn't earning ranking points because of his league affiliation. He has fallen to No. 449 in the rankings because the OWGR system doesn't recognize LIV participation.

In an interview with Australian Golf Digest, posted Tuesday, Gooch said not having the top players in the field only dilutes the end results.

"If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his [career] Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world, there's just going to be an asterisk," he said. "It's just the reality. I think everybody wins whenever the majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there."

Gooch, 32, gave up his PGA Tour membership in 2022 when he moved to the upstart, big-money LIV Golf circuit. He had one career PGA Tour win and $9.25 million in earnings -- well eclipsed by the $46.5 million he won in his first two LIV seasons.

Despite winning three tournaments and the LIV Golf title in 2023, Gooch didn't receive one of three invitations to the Masters issued by officials at Augusta National. One of the invites went to LIV's Joaquin Niemann of Chile, who was credited by Masters officials for his win at the ISPS Handa Australian Open and two other sanctioned events.

"Hopefully the day will turn when the majors decide to start rewarding good play on LIV. Hopefully that'll be sooner than later," Gooch said.

England's Lee Westwood, a former world No. 1 now playing in the LIV Golf League, told Australian Golf Digest that it's time for a change.

"I think the Official World Golf Ranking has got itself into a real hole. It's got itself to a point where it's obsolete, really, if I'm being completely honest," said Westwood, 50. "It's managed to be so stubborn that it no longer ranks all the best golfers in the world fairly. And it's gone so far that I don't see how it can come back from the hole that it's in because you can't backdate them."

And he agreed with Gooch that the prestige of the majors is at stake.

"I don't know where the OWGR goes from there. It's not fit for purpose anymore. It's there to rank the best golfers in the world and it doesn't do that. And if you are a major championship and you're looking for the best fields, you now can't go off the OWGR to formulate your fields and use them for exemptions. You've got to find another way of doing it, otherwise you lose credibility as a major championship, don't you?"