PGA & LIV Golf’s Rivalry Intensifies as Masters Month Nears

Rory McIlroy.

Getty Rory McIlroy reacts to a putt on the 18th green at The Masters in 2023.

Key figures from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf appear to reignite their intense rivalry just weeks before one of the biggest weeks in golf’s calendar — the 2024 Masters from April 10 to 13.

The latest in this ongoing saga features PGA mainstay Rory McIlroy, a four-time major winner who is yet to win a coveted green jacket of his own, LIV star Talor Gooch who publicly doubted McIlroy’s chances of success with a full field, and a rebuttal from six-time PGA Tour winner Rocco Mediate.

It all began Tuesday in an interview Gooch gave Australian Golf Digest as the 32-year-old used McIlroy as an example during an argument he was making about how a policy The Masters adheres to can dilute the competition.

“I think the majors have kind of shown that they’re not getting on board with LIV,” Gooch said.

Gooch referenced the Official World Golf Rankings which fail to recognize the successes of players competing on LIV’s tour.

Gooch reached two playoffs on tour with LIV last year, in Singapore and in Jeddah, and finished second at the LIV Golf Las Vegas competition mid-February.

Regardless, he keeps on falling down the world rankings and is, at the time of writing, No.427.

“Hopefully the day will turn when the majors decide to start rewarding good play on LIV,” Gooch said.

He then turned his crosshairs from The Masters and the world golf rankings, to McIlroy, specifically.

“If Rory McIlroy goes and” wins The Masters “without some of the best players in the world, there’s just going to be an asterisk,” Gooch said. “It’s just the reality.”

He added: “I think everybody wins whenever the majors figures out a way to get the best players in the world there.”

Ex-PGA Tour Winner Blasts Gooch Over ‘Embarrassing’ Comments

It isn’t yet clear why Gooch targeted McIlroy, as the Northern Irishman has won every major there is to win — except for The Masters.

But it wasn’t long before Gooch received blowback over his statements.

Rocco Mediate, a 61-year-old player who won six PGA Tour events from 1991 to 2010, went scorched Earth on Tuesday’s Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio Show.

“What has he ever done?” Mediate asked, before downplaying the quality at LIV by saying it’s “an embarrassment” that Gooch is able to do so well there.

“So, he’s won one tournament [previously] on the PGA Tour? What? Does that mean he can count that, whenever the hell that was? Please,” Mediate said. “No one cares.”

He continued: “So, please, he just needs to be quiet, go about his business, take all his money and fine. Just stop it. To say something about Rory, are you kidding me? Are you absolutely kidding me? It’s embarrassing.”

McIlroy Said he’d Give Gooch ‘Benefit of The Doubt’

On Wednesday, McIlroy himself broke his silence and was far more reserved than Mediate.

“The Masters is an invitational and they’ll invite whoever they think warrants an invite,” he said, according to AP.

“To be fair to Talor, if you read … the question and then the answer, it’s not as if he just came out with that.

“I feel whoever did the interview led him down that path to say that, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.

“He just agreed with what the interviewer asked.”

Per Fox Sports, Scottie Scheffler — the 2022 Masters winner — is the pre-tournament favorite to win once again in 2024.

McIlroy, the news site says, isn’t “too far behind.”

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