LIV Golf’s Talor Gooch thought he was exempt into the U.S. Open. The USGA explains why he’s not

Talor Gooch thought that he would be exempt into the U.S. Open in June at Los Angeles Country Club.

As Lee Corso would say, not so fast, my friends.

It turns out the USGA made a subtle change to its qualification categories this year that has Gooch instead on the outside looking in with work still to be done.

Gooch, who banked $4 million for winning LIV Adelaide, was suspended from the PGA Tour when he left for the breakaway Saudi-backed league last summer. But the 31-year-old Gooch had played well enough before his departure last season that he finished 29th in the FedEx Cup standings to qualify for the Tour Championship. That typically has earned players a ticket into the four majors. But Gooch wasn’t allowed to compete in the playoffs because he was suspended from the PGA Tour. Therein lies the reason that Gooch isn’t exempt. When the USGA updated its exemption criteria it added a stipulation that players “must be both qualified and eligible for the Tour Championship.”

“The USGA annually reviews its exemption criteria for all championships, and we did for the 2023 US Open,” a USGA spokesperson wrote in an email to Golfweek. “Importantly, we provided more clarity to a specific exemption category to reflect that players must be both qualified and eligible for the Tour Championship, beginning with the 2023 U.S. Open. The change was not made retroactively, but rather as a part of our annual review process and included within several other changes made to the criteria for the upcoming 2023 championship.”

Gooch, who received an invite to play in the Masters in April, expressed his disappointment with the USGA’s decision during an appearance on the “73rd Hole” podcast after his victory on LIV.

“That was obviously disappointing because that changed rule only affected one person, which was me,” Gooch said. “So that was frustrating and tough because with LIV still not being rewarded with World Ranking points, I have only two options to qualify for the U.S. Open: via my World Ranking, which is going to be very challenging, or trying to obviously go through the qualifying route of sectional qualifying.”

Gooch fell from No. 57 in the OWGR to No. 59 and will need to remain in the top 60 to earn a spot in the U.S. Open field.

“I’m hopeful that my ranking stays high enough for the next month that I get in,” he said. “Time will tell on that.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek