Bubba Watson
Bunna Watson in action at LIV Golf Jeddah Image Credit: LIV Golf

Bubba Watson believes Talor Gooch was spot on with his comments about a potential Rory McIlroy Grand Slam triumph requiring an “asterisk” due to the lack of LIV players included in the Masters field.

Gooch is not exempt into any Major Championships this year despite winning three times on LIV Golf last season.

Events on the breakaway circuit do not receive any World Ranking points, which has seen the American slide from being inside the world’s top 40 before he joined LIV Golf in 2022 to 476th in the Official World Golf Ranking.

World Ranking position is used among the exemption categories into all four Major Championships, with the top-50 in the world at the end of the calendar year or the week before the Masters earning an invite to Augusta National.

If McIlroy were to win the first Major of the year next month, he would complete the Grand Slam of winning the PGA Championship, Open Championship, U.S. Open and Masters Tournament,

Talor Gooch
Talor Gooch won three LIV Golf events in 2023 Image Credit: LIV Golf

Last week, Gooch told Australian Golf Digest: “If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his [career] grand slam without some of the best players in the world, there’s just going to be an asterisk. It’s just the reality. I think everybody wins whenever the majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there.”

Watson, a former RangeGoats GC teammate of Gooch, agrees.

“So, if you read the whole article, not just the headlines, he actually said in years to come,” said Watson when I put Gooch’s comments to him at LIV Golf Jeddah.

“If guys like Bryson (DeChambeau), Joaquin (Niemann), Louis (Oosthuzien) – guys that might lose their Major status – then that’s what he is talking about, and I agree with him.

“You can't take away some of the great players just because they went to a different Tour.

“If they all went to the DP World Tour or if somebody went to play golf in Japan because they married a girl from there, that’s where they just choose to play golf and there’s nothing wrong with that.

“I think we've got to figure out a way to make it all work, but I agree with Talor, there is going to be some setbacks in the next five to seven years when guys start losing their eligibility to get into the Majors, if it works out that way.”

Oosthuizen is set to miss out on his first Masters Tournament since 2008 after falling down the World Ranking, while DeChambeau, whose Crushers GC team won LIV Golf Jeddah, is playing this year’s Masters on a recent Major champion exemption after winning the U.S. Open in 2020.

That will come to an end after The Open Championship next year, but he will still be exempt into the U.S. Open until 2030.

Niemann, who is arguably the hottest golfer on planet golf right now with three worldwide wins in the last three months, had to rely on a special invitation from Augusta National to compete at next month’s Masters.

So, how do you solve a problem like LIV Golf players earning their place in the Majors?

“Oh, the answer is quite easy,” said Watson, who is exempt into the Masters Tournament for life as a previous winner.

“I’ve always said it should be your Tour, right?

“I know that we did this in the past with the Australian Tour, the top three on the money list get into certain events around the world.

“Let’s say top 50 or top 75 on the PGA Tour get in all the Majors. DP World Tour, say whatever, top 20,30 or 40 and for the Masters it might have to be even better.

“Say with us, we’ve got 54 guys out here so top ten on the money list or points list, however you want to word it, gets in.

“Top ten, top 15 get in because they’re all great champions out here. You just start going to the money list and points. If you play enough on all of them Tours and you make the top whatever on the money list, that is how you should do it.

“Then it's not about World Ranking, so if you want to play on the DP World Tour, PGA Tour or in Japan, you still have the chance to make these great events and that will make these great events greater.

“It's easy.”