home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


June 7, 2022

Talor Gooch

Sihwan Kim

Kevin Na

James Piot

London, England, UK

Centurion Club

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for joining us for the 1:00 p.m. press conference for the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series in London. Today we are joined by Kevin Na, Sihwan Kim, James Piot and Talor Gooch. I'm going to kick it over to Ari to get us started.

ARI FLEISCHER: Thanks, Jane. Thanks again to everybody in the media for joining today, and thanks to the golfers; you're what this is all about.

Let me start with you, Kevin, and move it on down the line. In many ways LIV Golf represents the beginning of free agency in golf. Every other sport, pretty much every other sport has players with the rights to be free agents, play where they want. What do you think of when you look at the future of your career and what free agency might mean to you?

KEVIN NA: You know, golf is a worldwide sport. I want to play all around the world. I want to be able to reach fans in all parts of the world, and they can still see me live and play. Being a free agent gives me that opportunity to play different parts of the world in the game I love to play.

I'm looking forward to this new free agency world, and like I stated in my social media, I think this is the beginning of something very cool for the golf world.

SIHWAN KIM: For me, I think LIV Golf is just a great opportunity for me to play, and just the fact that I can play wherever I want, I think it's great. I think it's just good for my career.

JAMES PIOT: Yeah, for me personally this is a great opportunity, 23-year-old getting to travel the world and go to places I never dreamed of and being able to make an impact on others is something I'd love to do with my career. Extremely grateful to be able to have this opportunity and looking forward to the future of playing everywhere I can go.

TALOR GOOCH: Obviously it's exciting, it's new, and who wouldn't want to be a part of it. Being a team sports guy growing up, like you said, you see free agency in all the other sports, so to think that we're part of the beginning of free agency in golf, it's exciting.

Q. We have 13 different countries represented here and representation from tours all over the world, obviously PGA TOUR, DP World Tour, Australasia Tour, Japan Tour and many others. What do you think about the level of competition and the field here this week?

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, we were kind of looking at the roster, if you will, and thinking about what the teams could look like after the draft tonight, and it's just exciting, especially having kids of all ages, kids that apparently are still doing some homework, and everything in between.

It's just exciting, and it's cool to -- like Kevin said, a world sport. To see guys from all over the world here, it shows you how good the game of golf is right now, and it shows how bright the future is.

JAMES PIOT: Yeah, me personally, I'm super excited. Walking down the range and seeing major champions from different countries and growing up on TV watching all these guys play and actually hitting balls next to them, it's like, oh, my gosh, I'm actually here. For me it's pretty exciting. Whoever picks me I'm looking forward to it.

This might be the first time I could be a last pick since like middle school basketball, but looking forward to it.

SIHWAN KIM: I think the level of competition is pretty high, and it's just only going to get better from this point on, so I think it'll be very interesting.

KEVIN NA: These guys all said it really great. I think the field is really good, especially for a first one. I know it's only going to get better. You've got major champions, guys from all over the world. All the top guys from each tour are playing, and I think it's a good mixture of age, two different tours, and I think it's going to create a lot of excitement.

I think some of the people in the golf world are going to see the top guys from Japan, obviously they're famous in Japan, but worldwide they might not know them; Asia same thing. But I think the whole world is going to get to know these guys, and I think that's better for the game.

Q. One thing I'm not sure fans understand as much as golfers do is the wear and tear on a golfer's body from playing a long season. LIV Golf is going to be a little bit different in that it's three days instead of four days. The season is a condensed season, a little more definable and knowable. How do you think that's going to impact your career, and does it matter? Does it make a difference on a body?

KEVIN NA: Well, as I get closer to the Senior Tour, I'm going to try to ask LIV for a golf cart because I think wear and tear is difficult for my body.

Yes, it is true that 54 events is less wear and tear on your body, but not only is it less wear and tear, I think it brings more excitement because it's three days and it's more condensed golf, because four rounds, it feels long. Nobody really pays attention to the first round. It's more about the weekend.

I think having three rounds, I think every round is more important because there's less holes being played. I think it brings more excitement.

I like the fact that there's less events, which means we play every one of them, so you know that all the guys that are signed up for LIV are going to be there, not, is he playing that week, is he playing that week; you just don't know. But because of that, the field is going to be what you expect.

SIHWAN KIM: Wear and tear on my body is pretty real. I'm only 33 but my body feels 50, if I am being honest. My back, wherever, it hurts.

After a tournament where you're walking and you're swinging, the wear and tear is quite severe. Monday, you take Monday off and you're trying to recover as fast as you can for the next tournament, and I think it being three rounds, nice and quick and having condensed season, I think it's great.

JAMES PIOT: Me personally, I haven't played a full Tour schedule yet, obviously turning pro a couple weeks ago, so for me just this experience has been phenomenal, but I've done three weeks in a row now. As a guy who's traveling solo, it's a lot to take in, and you kind of learn, seeing these guys every week with their family and their kids. It's a lot for them, so it's really cool for me as a young guy to be able to develop and play with these guys, and I'm looking forward to it.

KEVIN NA: How many tournaments have you played as a pro?

JAMES PIOT: This is my third.

KEVIN NA: Third.

JAMES PIOT: Yeah, not bad.

KEVIN NA: This is 501 for me. (Laughter.)

JAMES PIOT: Old man.

TALOR GOOCH: I mean, just like any other sport, we're trying to increase our longevity. Plain and simple, this is going to give guys the opportunity to play golf for a longer period of time, play much more than 500 events. I don't know how many I've played, but it's not near that much. I'm just tired thinking about 500 events, and I think my left knee just started hurting thinking about it, too.

THE MODERATOR: This week we are unveiling LIV Golf to the world and to the fans, introducing the team concept and everything about LIV Golf. What's the impression that you guys want to leave with fans at close of play on Saturday? What do you hope the fans walk away thinking and feeling about LIV Golf?

TALOR GOOCH: It's just exciting, every part of it. I think the fans are going to feel that. Kind of like Kevin was saying being three rounds rather than four, it's more meaningful, each shot, each round. I think it's just going to be a little bit more exciting. The added team aspect is obviously really cool for sports fans in general. I don't see how you could be not only a fan of golf but of sports and not think, man, this is a cool new fold, right.

I think it's just going to be exciting.

JAMES PIOT: Yeah, like Talor said, it's an exciting new adventure in golf, having the team format, and three rounds for us, it's really cool just seeing the camaraderie already, just guys hanging out with each other and kind of hoping they get picked.

I'm already trying to start to lobby and get on some good teams here. So Kevin, if you're looking for someone, I won't hold you back, I promise.

No, it's going to be awesome. Even the atmosphere out here, we're on the range this morning and they had music playing. I've never seen that in a professional golf event, so it's just something lively and new, and it's going to be a big change, but obviously something exciting for the future.

SIHWAN KIM: Team aspect I think is the most interesting concept about LIV Golf, and obviously there is only so many team events in a calendar year, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup and stuff like that. I think it's just interesting -- three days, team event. I think it's going to be really fun.

KEVIN NA: I think that obviously golf fans are going to enjoy this tournament. They're going to see it's unique, it's different, but at the same time I think this style of golf and this concept and the atmosphere, the music, the concerts, all these excitement are going to bring more non-golfers to this tournament, and people that don't know golf are going to come here and still be able to enjoy this event and not just be all about golf because we want to obviously grow the game and grow the fans to even the non-golfers.

I think this LIV Golf Invitational will do that to the non-golfers, and I think it'll reach a lot of different fans.

Q. James, you just turned professional two weeks ago, and a week or two before that you were playing college golf and now you're sitting on stage with some of the best golfers in the world and about to make your LIV Golf debut. Tell us about this journey from college golf to turning professional to making a debut at LIV.

JAMES PIOT: Yeah, it seems like a blur. It seems like just yesterday I was teeing it up at a college event and now I'm here, first LIV Golf event. For me it's really exciting just being around golf's greats, watching DJ hit balls on the range, and just kind of observing for me as a young guy, it's pretty special. Obviously what you guys are doing, it's the coolest thing in the world to be a part of. I'm looking forward to the whole week, the team setting and the draft party tonight.

Like I said, I'm excited to see whose team I'm on and excited to see where this journey takes me.

Q. Kevin, I think your statement that you'd given up your membership caused a bit of a surprise on whatever evening it was, Saturday. Can you just explain why you did it? Was it because you expected a ban anyway or because you wanted to avoid any kind of legal issue with the Tour?

KEVIN NA: It was a few reasons. One was I was committed to LIV. I knew obviously the PGA Tour has my media rights, and me going over to LIV without resigning was going to have disciplinary action, maybe legal actions against me.

Whether I can win that battle or not in court, I just didn't want to deal with it. I wanted to be able to play golf and focus on my game. Golf is a very demanding game. You have to be sharp mentally, and I just didn't want any of that to distract me.

At the same time, I have nothing but love and thankful for PGA Tour, what it's done for my career for the 19 years that I've played it, and I don't want to be in a legal battle with where I've worked for 19 years. I just didn't want to be a part of that.

I wanted to be more positive going into LIV. I didn't want any negativity going towards my new chapter of my new career. So that was my decision.

Q. Dustin was saying obviously by not being a PGA Tour member he's ineligible for the Ryder Cup. Where does that factor into your thinking or did it not?

KEVIN NA: I don't think that's for sure yet. I think that honestly in my opinion I don't think that's going to happen. Whether I'm right or wrong, I don't know, but I'm saying that as of now, nobody has made an announcement about you're not being eligible for the Ryder Cup. That's what I know.

Q. Your correct in that, I'll just say that Seth Waugh of the PGA of America said last year that as far as they're concerned their rules state that you need to be a member of the PGA Tour to be eligible for the Ryder Cup.

KEVIN NA: But doesn't the Ryder Cup want the best players playing for the tournament?

Q. I'm sure they do, but that's the rules.

KEVIN NA: Rules can always change.

Q. Kevin, going forward if you're not playing on the PGA Tour, how do you sustain your position within the golfing firmament in terms of World Ranking points, eligibility for majors, and are those sort of things still important to you, or have they been overtaken by LIV?

KEVIN NA: No, majors are very important to me. That is one thing that is missing in my career, and that has been a dream of mine to win a major championship since I can remember playing golf. I firmly believe that LIV Tour will be having World Ranking points sometime down the road, hopefully soon, and I still -- well, I think next year I'm high enough right now as long as I play -- I've got two majors, and there's opportunities to play Asian Tour. Asian Tour has good World Ranking points.

That's actually where I first started, Asian Tour. I won, I think, 2003 Volvo Masters. That's where I kicked off my career, and I really enjoyed playing Asian Tour at a young age and got to travel the world, and I would love to play a few events again on the Asian Tour.

But I think going back to the World Ranking points, I'm pretty confident that LIV will get World Ranking points because if you have some of the best players in the world playing your Tour, how does it make any sense not to give World Ranking points because that means the World Ranking points structure is skewed because you want to rate the World Ranking by who actually is the best players.

Q. Talor, there's players in the field this week like James who are at the very start of their career. There's a lot of players in the field this week who are in the tail end of their career; their career is on a downward trajectory. Your career is on an upward trajectory at the moment. You've won this season on the PGA Tour, two top-20 finishes in the majors. Why risk throwing all that away when you don't know what the future holds for you?

TALOR GOOCH: You know, for me from a scheduling perspective, this makes a lot of sense to come play here. It's a great week to knock off the rust, if you will, for the U.S. Open next week.

I don't see how any type of banning or suspension from the PGA Tour, I don't see how that does the game of golf any good. Everyone kind of agrees that we're trying to grow the game of golf.

I'm fortunate to have gotten to a point where I'm one of the better players on the PGA Tour currently, and I just don't see how it benefits the fans, the game of golf to start throwing out bans, suspensions, things of that nature. I'm hopeful, and that's why I haven't submitted my resignation from the Tour, because I'm hopeful to continue to play the PGA Tour, and I'm hopeful that both LIV Golf and the PGA Tour can coincide. I don't see any reason that that can't happen.

Q. Was it a decision you agonized over? Did you speak to Jay Monahan to see what the consequences would be of you playing this week?

TALOR GOOCH: I didn't agonize. Obviously it's a career decision. But for me it was very clear that this was the best move for me for my season, and to, again, prepare for the U.S. Open and just give me the best chance to play the best golf I can.

Q. You're knocking on the door of the world's top 30. You would be in the conversation I'm sure for Ryder Cup teams going forward; do you want to be a Ryder Cup player --


Q. Do you think you might be risking that, as well?

TALOR GOOCH: Absolutely. Every kid that grows up playing professional golf, we all want to be on the Ryder Cup, we all want to be on the Presidents Cup. That's another reason why this is so exciting, as well, is just the team aspect that we don't have at the professional level really.

Again, I don't see how any type of banning, suspension or anything of that nature is going to grow the game at any level, and I'm really hopeful to have the chance to play on the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup and continue to move forward with that part of my career.

KEVIN NA: You keep saying you're risking everything. Why do you think that? Because I don't think it's a risk, because I think it's -- I really think --

Q. For the reasons that Phil just said, that Seth Waugh has said --

KEVIN NA: Yeah, but just hear me out. Because I feel like that LIV Golf is the potential to be the next world stage. I envision it as this being the world tour, this being the -- I like to use the word "superleague." I think this is where the best players compete out of the 48 guys. I don't think it's a risk, because all the Ryder Cup or majors, wherever all these big tournaments are, without the best players in the world, yes, majors are still majors, but it's not the same. I don't like -- I understand what you're saying --

Q. With respect, Kevin, you keep saying the best players in the world are here, 46 of the world's top 50 are playing the PGA Tour, and the Canadian Open this week is far stronger than this event is going to be, so the world's best players are still very much there.

KEVIN NA: What I'm saying is the vision moving forward -- this is only the first event. I think the vision moving forward, I think this has the potential to have the best players in the world and to be maybe the best tour in the world.

I do know what you're saying about risk and I do get what you're saying. But when somebody asks me that, the same question, my friends or people around me, Kevin, do you feel like you're risking or taking a risk, and I really don't feel it that way. I feel it as this is an opportunity to be a part of something that's going to be amazing in the future, and I'm the pioneer of it.

Q. I'm curious for each of you what your thoughts are on the shotgun start, maybe one of the last time you guys played a shotgun start, scheduled one.

JAMES PIOT: For me as a college guy, I just got done playing plenty of those this year, so for me it feels like you're playing college golf again except Kevin Na, PGA Tour players, Dustin Johnson, you're playing against PGA Tour players, not college players, but in an exciting format and setting where it's new, and I'm looking forward to it.

For me it's ideal weather conditions for everyone, too. You get the same tee times. There's nothing to complain about. I'll say that, too. I'll leave that there.

TALOR GOOCH: Hey Kev, you played PGA a couple weeks back, right?


TALOR GOOCH: Which wave were you?

KEVIN NA: The good wave.

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah. I was the bad wave. So the shotgun start is very enticing on my end because of recent tournaments.

KEVIN NA: I can't remember the last time I played shotgun, but I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Kevin, I'm intrigued, you spoke about being a free agent and looking forward to free agent golf. I think you also mentioned in your statement at the weekend, you also speak about a commitment to LIV Golf. Surely you're not actually a free agent at all, you've just changed what you're committed to?

KEVIN NA: Well, I'm committed to play LIV Golf, but also LIV doesn't tie me down to only play LIV. I can go play Asian Tour, I can go play Korean Tour, maybe even DP Tour. I'm not sure what is going on there. But Japan Tour.

There's so many opportunities, South Africa, who knows where. Some of the places that maybe I build a relationship with some of the sponsors and that want me there, I'd love to play.

But what I meant by free agency was I can still be a part of -- committed to LIV Tour but have the freedom to play anywhere else. I'm not saying I'm going to play two, three tournaments on this tour, three tournaments on this tour. Free agency that I was meaning was LIV gives you the freedom to still go play anywhere you want.

Q. Apart from the PGA Tour which you've just resigned from.

KEVIN NA: Yeah, because PGA Tour doesn't give you that freedom. I don't mean it in a negative way, just...

Q. Do you understand the arguments who would say that you are contributing, legitimizing a degree of sports washing of Saudi Arabia and its regime? Do you think that's fair criticism?

TALOR GOOCH: I mean, I don't think that's fair, but also I'm a golfer, I'm not that smart. I try to hit a golf ball into a small hole. Golf is hard enough. I try to worry about golf, and I'm excited about this week.

Q. Kevin, can you understand why the PGA Tour would want to ban players? I know what Talor said is correct, from your point of view it wouldn't make much sense, but from their point of view, you're defecting to a rival. I know it's only eight tournaments at the minute, but the plan is for 14 and who-knows-what more, so can you understand why they would think you shouldn't have your cake and eat it and just be allowed to do what you like?

KEVIN NA: I understand. I understand why the Tour is doing it. They're protecting their brand and they're protecting their Tour. I don't have any hard feelings. I understand why they're doing it. I spoke to Jay Monahan and spoke to the guys on the Tour, and I understand why they're doing it. That's just their rules. Their rules and regulations says that you get three releases a year and we own your media rights. Simple as that.

If you don't follow their rules and regulations, obviously there's consequences.

Q. Is this all about media rights? That's twice you mentioned it now and Phil has mentioned it --

KEVIN NA: No, I have no problem with the Tour owning my media rights. My media right is not worth much. Phil's is worth a lot, mine is worth nothing.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297