LIV Golf League champion Talor Gooch is hoping that his incredible 2023 season form can translate at the Hong Kong Open after getting the inside line from one of his stablemates and rivals on a unique course that is “a little bit different” to the norm.
Gooch, a member of the Range Goats GC, finished top of the standings in the LIV Golf League ahead of Cameron Smith thanks to three tournament wins around the world this season – at Adelaide, Singapore and Andalucia.
Smith clearly didn’t take the overall result too badly; the Australian was still happy to give Gooch the benefit of his experience on the Composite Course at Hong Kong Golf Club at Fanling after finishing T9 in 2014.
The American is relishing the prospect of testing himself on a renowned course and tournament which has an illustrious line of champions including Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Rory McIlroy. He said: “You only hear great things about this place. A couple months back, when I knew I was going to come out here, I was talking with Cam and he was raving about the golf course.
“With Wade Ormsby (defending champion and a fellow Australian) playing with him a little bit the last year and a half, he likes this place a little bit I think, you just hear great things about this place. It is my first time to Hong Kong obviously so I’m very excited.
“I am looking forward to the week. I was at the golf course yesterday and played the front nine and its in great shape. It’s a little bit different to the golf I am used to back home, but in a good way, so I’m excited and we’ll see if we can go and have a good one.”
“It’s my first time here in Hong Kong, you hear so many great things – not only about the golf course, but about the tournament. There’s such a rich history at this tournament, at this golf course and I’m just excited to be a part of it.”
Gooch has tasted success in the region before, having wrapped up victory at LIV Golf Singapore with an incredible performance and play-off win over Sergio Garcia from Spain at Sentosa, and he’s relishing the prospect of another week of world-class competition in golf-mad Asia, at one of the Asian Tour’s 10 elevated events on The International Series.
He said: “I love it! I love the culture, I love the food, the golf courses, all of it. The fans here in Asia love their golf, there’s a passion behind the fans and the sport so it’s fun to be a part of. It’s fun to get outside of my home, the United States, and come see how much people love golf abroad. So, I love Asia. I loved my first time here in Hong Kong so far, and I’m looking forward to a fun week!”
Patrick Reed is another big-name American golfer who loves playing in this part of the world. He’ll be lining up in his fourth attempt at the Hong Kong Open, and he admits marquee events like this on The International Series have all the ingredients needed for a top weekend’s work on a course he loves to play.
Reed, the 2018 Masters champion and member of the victorious 4Aces GC team on the LIV Golf League, said: “I love the golf course. I think it’s one of these that is more a kind of old style so it’s not just a ball hitter’s golf course – you actually have to think and methodically place your way around the golf course.
“I feel that’s what separates golf these days, when it seems like everyone gets longer and longer and longer. With defences in place, where it’s more positional. If you’re hitting the ball really well, you can attack but at the same time if you’re just a hair off, you struggle.”
“I feel that’s what separates golf these days, when it seems like everyone gets longer and longer and longer. When really there are defences in places like this, where it’s more positional. If you’re hitting the ball really well, you can attack but at the same time if you’re just a hair off, it’ll make you struggle.”
Reed is a big fan of taking a global approach to the game, and that’s one of the reasons he participates on The International Series events, having confirmed he will also tee it up at the BNI Indonesian Masters presented by TNE, the final event of the 10-date schedule.
“It’s crucial, in my career, I’ve always wanted to be a worldwide player and because the PGA Tour is mainly in the United States, it was hard to become the worldwide player that I wanted to be. So when I had the opportunity to be a part of the European Tour (DP World Tour) that allowed me to touch some of these areas and regions.
“But really the biggest thing is, joining LIV allowed me to venture out and not only to play around the world, but also allowed me to have a schedule to come play events like this on The International Series.
“I’m excited to come to new places and new venues, and to a place that I’ve played before, here in beautiful Hong Kong. I feel a lot of people want to play golf, but they also want to see the top players in the world.
“They want to have that drive. Rather than just see on TV it is something special to see them in person. So, to come over and play always means a lot to me.
“I’ve always felt like this is an area that we all can help grow – not just in the game of golf but also to teach kids about morals and things that go along with golf. It’s ‘all you’ out there while you’re playing, and you teach them the drive and motivation to get up in the morning, get started, get working and taking ownership and do the hard work.
“I feel like there’s a lot of things that people can learn about it. Why not come to an area that really supports and really loves golf.”
For more information on the Hong Kong Open, please visit asiantour.com.