LIV golfers Patrick Reed, Talor Gooch grilled after comparing New Tour’s Portland event to Ryder Cup

It’s getting harder and harder to give LIV Golf the benefit of the doubt as it relates to being taken seriously when so many of its players keep saying completely ridiculous things. The latest culprit is Talor Gooch, who played for the winning Four Aces in this weekend’s LIV tournament in Portland, Oregon, along with Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez.

Shortly after the Aces won the tournament Saturday night, Gooch went on to compare their 54-hole triumph to one of the great events in all of sports.

“I haven’t played the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup, but I can’t imagine there’s a hell of a lot of difference,” Gooch said of his week at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. “That was as cool as it gets. We’ve been saying it all week. The energy is just different, it’s great.”

The look on Reed and Johnson’s faces as Gooch spoke spoke volumes.

Still, Reed — who earlier this week cited the PGA Tour not listening to players as one of the reasons he withdrew from that tour — doubled down later when interviewed after his first LIV Golf event. He is, of course, one of the great Ryder Cup players of the last 25 years and built much of his reputation in those few weeks, but he still chose to back what Gooch said.

“It’s been unreal,” Reed said of the fan support throughout the week. “I might move to Portland soon, so many fans are on my side. I’m like, “This is amazing,”

“You know, it was great from start to finish. I mean, just the beginning of the week… really the first few days without fans and just seeing how intense and how pumped up all the guys get, I felt like I was playing a team event in Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups and events like that where everybody’s all- in.

“I think that’s the most important thing, everyone is all in. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first day you arrive playing nine-hole practice rounds or if it’s the last round of the event. Everyone’s cheering for everyone, everyone’s playing their hearts out, trying their hardest.”

This is, of course, completely ridiculous, and other golfers quickly joined in the conversation. Two-time Ryder Cooper Justin Thomas said of Gooch’s comment“I’ve seen some funny stuff online, but this is one of the best.”

Canadian Mackenzie Hughes, who is currently in contention for a spot on the international team at this year’s Presidents Cup, said“I’ve had a lot of LOL moments with LIV, but this is hands down number one.”

While the team atmosphere in Portland was surprisingly compelling and more intense than expected, comparing it to the Ryder Cup — which is the most outrageous atmosphere in all of sports — is absurd. While LIV Golf (who knows!) may someday reach the level of emotion and excitement that the Ryder Cup engenders, it’s not there yet, and it’s not even close. To say that after six rounds of golf is – in the most generous interpretation of what was conveyed – just plain stupid.

It’s also an insult to the players who entered these events, who poured out all the vulnerability their hearts could contain into the Ryder Cup, not because they were paid at all, but because meant something. LIV Golf doesn’t resemble the Ryder Cup in any way, other than being the antonym of the Ryder Cup.

I also thought of Ian Poulter, who happened to play in each of the first two LIV events and may never play in the Ryder Cup again because of it. He was interviewed recently for Shane Ryan’s excellent book, The Cup They Couldn’t Lose, and his words about what the future of the Ryder Cup looks like for Europe was the way the book ended.

I had my doubts about the younger players that they could ever reach the level of living legends like him and Sergio Garcia and others, or that they could convert the passion of decades of European heroes in quite the same way. He did not share my doubts.

“It’s very easy to explain,” [Poulter] said. “When you put on a shirt, you have the responsibility of every player who has ever worn that shirt. That’s how you should treat her and that’s the level of passion you should go play with. And if you don’t feel that passion, then you shouldn’t stop it.”

I agreed with him, but it didn’t seem like he was answering the question about the new Europeans. I pressed the question. “Do you think it matters to the younger generation as much as it does to you?” I asked.

The familiar light appeared in his eyes. “Don’t worry about it. I’ll do my damnedest to let them know.” If you had heard it – if you had seen him– you would believe it too.

The week in Portland ended the way it started, with an embarrassing downgrade of some truly historic accomplishments by the best players of this generation. Brooks Koepka, one of the great champions of the past three decades, he seemed ashamed that his pride had a price to the press earlier in the week and that maybe he doesn’t care as much about winning major championships as he once claimed he did.

Reed, whose entire career has revolved around incredible moments in team events, then had to stand next to someone who had never even competed in one and nod as if what happened in Portland was the same as what happened in Hazeltine. It seems like it’s the cost of doing business that’s both difficult to take seriously and certainly higher than what some of these stars thought they’d have to pay.

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