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ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Jordan Spieth isn’t the only new proud papa of late. Talor Gooch joined the club a little over four months ago. But the 30-year-old former Oklahoma State star claimed he’s getting plenty of rest as his wife and his in-laws are here this week to make his life easy.
“It’s gives me comfort,” he said.
That word summarizes Gooch’s approach to the game. The fifth-year PGA Tour pro says he finally feels comfortable out here and it shows in his results: he’s registered two top-5 finishes and a pair of T-11s during the fall season.
On Friday at the RSM Classic, the wind blew and the temperature barely rose into the 60s, but it didn’t bother an Oklahoma native, who is used to factoring in the wind. Gooch canned a 66-foot eagle putt and made four other birdies en route to shooting 5-under 65 at Sea Island’s Seaside Course.
“It’s easy on days like today to play conservative, but when you’re swinging it well you’ve got to be aggressive,” he said. “We’re trying to win tournaments and to do so you’ve got to be aggressive.”
Well, there was at least one shot that he admittedly may have been just trying to lag his long-range eagle putt at the par-5 seventh into gimme range.
“I saw hopefully a two-putt and it popped in,” said Gooch, who when told he holed 132 feet of putts on the day, cracked, “A 66-footer helps with that.”
Through 36 holes, he’s played the six par 5s in 7 under, including another long eagle putt from 50 feet at the 14th on Thursday, to post a 36-hole aggregate of 13-under 129.
Gooch, who is seeking his first Tour title, didn’t pinpoint when he started feeling comfortable with being in contention, but he said he’s been there, done that enough that he’ll be ready for this weekend.
“We were talking about it today on a hole where I was hitting like a chip 7-iron and it’s like I’ve seen this shot before out here and I’ve made the mistake before out here. So just being out here enough, you start to understand like days like today, I’m comfortable with it because I know what to expect because I’ve seen it before,” he said. “You just can’t put a value on comfort and how much that will do for you.”
Blustery conditions lead to higher scoring on Friday at the Seaside Course and its sister, the Plantation Course, where John Huh made six birdies to shoot 67.
“Which is good with these tough conditions,” said Huh, who is tied for second at 12 under along with first-round leader Sebastian Muñoz (70 at PC).
Another shot back is Mackenzie Hughes (68 at SC), who described the difference in playing conditions the past two days as “night and day,” and rookie Taylor Moore, who made an ace at the 17th hole at the Seaside Course.
“It’s a pretty perfect club, 8-iron from about 178 with wind off the right. Just started at that right bunker and let the wind do its job, and got a fortunate bounce,” said Moore, who shot 65. “It looked like kind of like a fringe bounce.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) November 19, 2021
Moore, 28, finished the 2020-21 combined season No. 6 in the Korn Ferry Tour points standings after recording a win and 13 top-10 finishes. Baseball was his first love and he starred as a middle infielder, a good contact hitter who knew how to find the gaps. He was offered a baseball scholarship at Arkansas before switching to golf.
“My dad coached college baseball for 20 years, so I grew up going to the field every day and that was kind of my childhood and first love,” he said. “So it was a tough choice at the time for sure.”
Both Gooch and Moore call Edmond, Oklahoma, home. Could this be the week one of them breaks through for a win? Gooch, for one, knows his time will come.
“Guys like Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth and all these guys that have won early and won often, they’ve kind of put an expectation on a different level than what I think the average golfer understands out here. I know I’m going to win, I know I’m going to compete a lot and it’s just a matter of when it’s my time,” Gooch said. “I’m going to keep working, I’m going to keep getting ready so when it’s my time, I’m going to take it and run with it.”