July 23, 2024

This week, as the PGA Tour and LIV Golf separated, Justin Thomas talked about the caliber of the Players Championship field. The 2021 could not help but poke fun at Talor Gooch.

Following Talor Gooch’s divisive “asterisk” remarks regarding this year’s Masters field, Justin Thomas took a playful jab at his rival in LIV Golf.

Known as golf’s “fifth major,” Thomas is one of several PGA Tour players competing at this week’s Players Championship. Though many LIV stars aren’t there because of their PGA Tour bans, much has been said about the caliber of the field at TPC Sawgrass this week.

In the lead-up to the competition this year, former champion Thomas weighed in on the discussion, saying, “There’s always the argument that there are other tournaments that are or are not.

“I’m not saying that for selfish reasons; it’s just the truth; the PGA Championship has had the deepest field in terms of the most top 100 players.” In recent months, the caliber of fields has gained a lot of attention, particularly in relation to the four major championships.

Due to their decline in the world rankings, fewer LIV golfers are expected to compete in all four of the major events this year. Gooch, the 2023 breakaway league champion, is one player who won’t be playing a lot. Gooch caused some controversy last month when he said that Rory McIlroy’s victory at this year’s Masters would come with a “asterisk” because there weren’t any LIV players in the tournament.

“There’s just going to be an asterisk if Rory Mcllroy goes and completes his Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world,” Gooch stated to Australian Golf Digest. That’s just how things are. Everybody benefits, in my opinion, whenever the majors manage to bring the greatest players in the world to town.

Thomas continued at TPC Sawgrass after realizing the irony of Gooch’s remarks: “I understand what you mean when you talk about world rankings and players who are or aren’t on the Tour, but that’s just the reality of the situation they have put themselves in. Furthermore, since the field wasn’t that strong, I won’t have an asterisk next to my name for winning this, right?

Following Gooch’s remarks at the end of February, McIlroy offered his own commentary. “The Masters is an invitational and they will invite whoever they think warrants an invitation,” stated the Northern Irishman, who will be vying to win the green jacket and complete the career Grand Slam, at the Cognizant Classic.

To be fair to Talor, I believe that if you read the question and the response in their entirety, it shows that he didn’t just say that. I’m somewhat giving him the benefit of the doubt because I believe that whoever conducted the interview sort of guided him in that direction to say that. He essentially just nodded in response to the interviewer’s questions.”

Though he responded diplomatically, McIlroy showed little remorse for Gooch’s decision to skip Augusta the following month, emphasizing Joaquin Niemann’s non-LIV work that earned him a Masters invitation. He continued, “But at the same time, Joaquin Niemann received an invitation. A few weeks ago, I performed with Joaquin in Dubai, and he traveled to Australia and triumphed.”

“He spent last week in Oman. I’m not sure if the same can be said for Taylor, but he’s been chasing his tail all over the world to try to play his way into Augusta or demonstrate enough form to earn an invitation.”

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