Although Talor Gooch isn’t atop the tournament leaderboard through two rounds of LIV Golf Jeddah, he does lead the projections for the individual champion race.
If he plays well Sunday and everything falls his way, the RangeGoats GC star will earn a memorable season-long title, as well as the $18-million bonus. The final round at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club will complete the regular season competition for the crown.
“I think everyone knows what’s on the line tomorrow, and that’s going to build the intensity of it,” Gooch said. “It’s such an incredible opportunity, so you’ve just got to take it in stride and just embrace it.
“I knew it was going to come down to Sunday.”
Starting the tournament in second place in the overall standings behind Ripper GC Captain Cameron Smith, Gooch is now projected into the top spot after his 64 on Saturday moved him into a four-way tie for ninth on the tournament leaderboard at six under, six shots behind tournament leader Brooks Koepka.
Smith is at two under after his 68 and is tied for 25th, which earns no points and would drop him to No 2 in the Individual standings.
The other player with individual champion aspirations is Crushers GC Captain Bryson DeChambeau, who made a big charge Saturday with a seven-under 63 that leaves him at eight under and tied for fourth. DeChambeau needs to finish in the top three to have any chance at the title, but his fate also depends on how Smith and Gooch finish.
“All I’m focused on tomorrow is winning this tournament, and the rest will take care of itself,” DeChambeau said. “The job is not even close to being done. We’ve got 18 more holes.”
Winning the tournament will be a challenge if Koepka continues his impressive play at Royal Greens.
The Smash GC captain won here last year after opening with a 62. He matched that score on Saturday, shooting a bogey-free eight-under round in which he opened with six birdies in his first eight holes.
At 12 under for the tournament, he leads Fireballs GC Captain Sergio Garcia and the Crushers’ Charles Howell III by three strokes, with DeChambeau and Scott Vincent – who also shot 62 on Saturday – another stroke back.
Koepka started the tournament too far back in points to challenge for the Individual title, but he does have an opportunity to finish third in the standings and claim a $4-million bonus. He must repeat as tournament champion and hope DeChambeau finishes no better than 14th.
“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” Koepka said. “Seems to be working since I’m at the top.”
Vincent, a member of Iron Heads GC, also has a huge opportunity on Sunday. He started the week outside the lock zone – the top 24 in points who earn guaranteed spots in next year’s LIV Golf League. But his second-round 62 now projects him into 24th in the standings.
“Tomorrow’s a big day,” Vincent said. “You can’t hide from that.”
Meanwhile, team seeds will also be determined, with the top four seeds receiving quarter-final byes for next week’s Team Championship in Miami.
RangeGoats GC is projected to move ahead of Stinger GC for the final bye, while DeChambeau’s Crushers GC are 22 under and have a three-stroke lead on the tournament leaderboard, projecting them to the No 1 seed ahead of 4Aces GC.
“Definitely want to win the team championship and be first in the points list going to Miami,” said DeChambeau, whose Crushers have won twice this year, including the previous LIV Golf event in Chicago.
“We’re that good of a team, and my boys have worked really hard this year. If we play well tomorrow, we definitely deserve to be up in that No 1 spot.”
Photo: Jon Ferrey/LIV Golf