May 10, 2023
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Cedar Ridge Country Club
THE MODERATOR: Let's welcome Peter Uihlein from 4 Aces GC, Talor Gooch from Rangegoats GC, and Charles Howell III from Crushers GC.
We are joined by three OSU Cowboys hailing from America's No. 1 golf school. Collectively up here we have three LIV Golf individual wins and a team championship. I want to ask you guys, what is in the water at OSU?
PETER UIHLEIN: I wasn't a part of any of those. That was Talor.
TALOR GOOCH: How many times have you been asked what's in the water in Stillwater?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, exactly, the fear of disappointing Coach Holder. That's what's in the water in Stillwater.
Q. Tell us about how your time at OSU prepared you for life on LIV Golf or as a professional golfer.
CHARLES HOWELL III: I think all of us went to OSU because of the people that played there before us. I looked up to Bob Tway and Scott Verplank and Willie Wood and that whole generation. I think we all chose to go to Oklahoma State for one reason, and that's the golf.
I was lucky enough to play for Mike Holder. Obviously it's a very golf centric school and time there, but I think you feel special there, but you're there to compete.
Q. Peter, Talor, you guys crossed over one year there together. Tell us about your time there and if you have any fun anecdotes or memories there.
PETER UIHLEIN: We called him "Moose" because every time he'd be running sprints, it would sound like a damn moose was chasing it, he was so far behind us. That was his nickname.
TALOR GOOCH: Golly. How do you top that one?
No, so I mean, part of my story, I'm from Oklahoma, obviously. I've said that a million times now.
But it was so cool to see the Charles Howells and the Peter Uihleins and the Morgan Hoffmanns, all these people from outside of Oklahoma who decided to come to Oklahoma State to play golf. As a kid are from Oklahoma when you see that there's a reason for that. To have the chance to be an Oklahoma State Cowboy was something that you're not going to pass up. You want to go there, you want to add to the legacy of it. Not only while you're there but when you finish and turn to professional golf, it still has a great history of Oklahoma State golfers that have had great careers at the professional level.
You just want to add to it. You feel like you've been a small part of something bigger than yourself, and it's cool to add to the history of Oklahoma State.
Q. Do you guys anticipate seeing a lot of orange in the crowd this week cheering you all on?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I would certainly think so. I hope so. I know we've given out a lot of tickets.
PETER UIHLEIN: There may be more orange than red this week.
Q. Talor, you're kind of the hometown hero this week. You've done a lot of stuff this week for your foundation, the Talor Gooch Foundation. Can you tell us a little bit about the Talor Gooch Foundation and what you've done to raise money for your community?
TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, so a couple years back my wife and I started a foundation. Being from Oklahoma, we wanted to focus on the local community, both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and yeah, so we had our second annual foundation tournament. Last year we had it the Monday after the PGA Championship that was at Southern Hills here in Tulsa, and so this Monday we had our second annual one here at Cedar Ridge, and it was a fantastic day and we raised a bunch of money.
A few of the organization that we partner with, Hope is Alive is one of them, Positive Tomorrows is another one. They both had some representatives here to kind of give people further insight into what they do and how we have kind of helped impact their organizations and helped give specifically families and children opportunities to do things that they weren't given.
Fortunately we had a bunch of pros come out and help out, and the support not only from the pros within LIV Golf but the local community, LIV Golf, the media, everyone has really rallied around this week, and for me it's been really cool and really special.
I'm definitely ready now, though, to get the tournament going.
Q. You guys touched on this a little bit, but I was hoping to kind of have you guys take me back to the recruitment process coming out of high school, kind of what the story was like, what other schools you might have considered, who was the most influential person or people that helped you make a decision to go to OSU? Charles?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, so I was between the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Oklahoma State. I think when you make a decision to go across the country to play golf for Mike Holder, you're really making a commitment to play golf and professional golf. It was something I wanted to do.
I wasn't sure if I could handle him, to be quite honest. You hear all the stories and whatnot. But it was three awesome years. I talked to a lot of people. I remember having some conversations with Bob Tway on the phone, not from a recruitment point of view but more what does he expect and what are we getting into, if you had to do it all over again, what would you do, things of that nature.
I think the history and the tradition of it makes it easy to ultimately decide to go there with the success that Oklahoma State has had and hopefully continues to have.
PETER UIHLEIN: I grew up a pretty big Duke basketball fan, and I remember sitting around the couch asking my dad, what was the equivalent to Duke basketball for college golf, and he said Okie State. At that point I kind of became a fan, and that's where I wanted to go. Love tradition, love history, love the excellence that they bring.
To be able to make a mark on the university from a playing standpoint, you're basically a small fish in a big pond, and if you can leave your mark there, you've done something really well.
That tied with all the history that goes into it, former players. I went to high school with the Leon brothers and Jonathan Moore and then looked up to Charles and Bo Van Pelt, Scottie V, so those guys you kind of get close to and become friends with. Okie State was just kind of always -- I looked at other schools, but I was always going to go there.
Q. Was it much of a cultural shift going from a coastal New England town to --
PETER UIHLEIN: Yeah. I remember when I left Stillwater they were getting jacked because they had an Olive Garden coming in. I think they've got like a Sprouts now, so they've expanded.
Q. Talor, was it a pretty easy decision? Did you consider any other schools? Did OU come after you at all?
TALOR GOOCH: No, it was an easy decision really from the first time that -- my coach my first three years was Mike McGraw, and first time I had any interaction with him was when I was in -- I think I was in eighth grade. I was 14 or whatever at the time.
When I saw that, you see the Swinging Pete on the hat and thinking, I have an opportunity to do this, I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure I get a spot on the team.
I made other schools feel like I might have a chance of going there so I could get some free football tickets out of it, but it was always going to be Oklahoma State.
Q. Talor Gooch, considering the USGA has restricted you from being in the U.S. Open, that means that the U.S. Open is not going to have a fully stacked field. I want to know historically how is that going to affect LeBron's legacy?
TALOR GOOCH: I mean, we are going to be in LA. If he's still playing in the Playoffs, that might be an interesting week.
The legacy, that's a great discussion. We could go even further into that.
Are you a LeBron guy?
PETER UIHLEIN: No.
TALOR GOOCH: I asked on purpose.
Q. Peter, you're a big Titleist guy. I think your dad owns the company or something. Why do you think they won't work with us?
PETER UIHLEIN: So he's been retired for a while. That's a great question.
TALOR GOOCH: That's a great question. Why, Pete?
PETER UIHLEIN: I'm no longer affiliated with them --
TALOR GOOCH: Just look at his hat.
PETER UIHLEIN: Yeah. I've got nothing for you. Sorry.
Q. Is it just like Frank@Titleist.com or is there a good email?
PETER UIHLEIN: Go Acushnet Golf and then you might get something.
Q. Charles, you had a big, big role in bringing LIV Golf to this golf course. Can you talk about what that process was and the pitch that you made to the powers that be here to have LIV play here?
CHARLES HOWELL III: So Talor and I had a conversation back in October in Bangkok when we were playing the event there about a LIV event coming to Oklahoma. Obviously I relied much heavily on Talor who's from here who knows the golf courses in the areas better than I do, and that kind of started our conversation and started the conversation with LIV and those that help with the scheduling, and approached a few different clubs in Oklahoma.
I think ideally you want an Oklahoma City or Tulsa area, which we were able to do. I think what it boils down to, and Talor can speak to that, is Oklahoma are massive sports fans, and on top of that, they're massive golf fans.
The years that we've played the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, we've had massive galleries. We've had also senior events at Oak Tree with massive galleries.
I knew it would work well. I know they like their golf, and I know we have six players on LIV that played college golf here; you had Abraham Ancer at OU and then five of us at OSU. That's one-eighth of the entire Tour has a tie here. I thought that was an important deal. You couldn't write a better script with Talor winning the previous two events coming back into his home state.
It's all worked out really well for us. I hope everybody has a wonderful week here. I think the fan support will be good, and hopefully we can come back.
Q. Talor, how do you not get distracted by all the external stuff, going for the three-peat in your home state, all the USGA stuff. I know they were joking about it, but it has to be tasking on you, and obviously the major next week, how do you make sure you're focused on golf because that's a lot of stuff going on?
TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, listen, it's our job. It's pretty easy to get locked in. If this game was easier, I might be able to be distracted and not worry about the golf, but golf is hard enough.
At the end of the day, there's nothing given to you, so you know you've got to put the work in. You know when it comes game time, there's nothing -- you're not just going to make birdies by showing up. Man, it's how I've built my life is how are we going to get better this week, how are we going to get better today.
I'm grateful for all of the external stuff, all the extra stuff going on because that means there's a bunch of good things that are happening.
I will sleep pretty good each night this week after the last few days with everything going on, but it's a blessing and an opportunity to, like Charles said, we want to have an event here in Oklahoma as often as we can, and so I want to make sure that we're doing everything we can to make it a great week, not only for the players or the fans, the media, everyone in between.
Yeah, hey, this golf course is not easy. Golf is not easy. None of us want to show up and not play well, and at the end of the day, that's the most important part. I've said it a few times now. I call it the rule of 67. You focus on shooting 67s, everything will take care of itself.
Q. Peter and Charles, I was going to ask you guys since you're playing some of the best golf of your career, do you feel disrespected at all by your Official World Golf Ranking, and how much do you guys actually think about that?
CHARLES HOWELL III: So I think all of us are at different stages in our career. I had 23 years on the PGA TOUR, and I feel kind of rejuvenated to come out here. It's a bit of a new life and a second wind. Being around all the young guys, all the young guys out here, pushes me.
The World Golf Ranking system, obviously I think it needs some tweaking. I think we've put together good enough fields and events that are deserving of World Ranking points. Obviously that starts a big debate and a longer one, but I think quite simply put, I think we're deserving of World Ranking points, and if not, then I think there needs to be some other form of criteria, not just for me but for the next generation, next guys coming up to play their way into major championships.
PETER UIHLEIN: Verbatim. He did great.
Q. Looks like in the forecast we're going to have some rain coming in, definitely going to be off and on here and there. Will y'all's course strategy change depending on the weather, and if so, how will it?
TALOR GOOCH: I've got a quick little story, side story. At Karsten Creek my freshman year, the national championship was there, and this guy hits as good of a stinger as anyone. Coach McGraw and Coach Bratton went to a few of the tee boxes where there was some native grass around the tee boxes and kind of trimmed it a little bit lower in the front so that neither of ours but especially his would not clip the grass.
I think the three of us know how to play in this wind pretty good.
PETER UIHLEIN: It was windy around Mexico, and Charles did all right there.
TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, exactly. I think we're not going to be upset if there's a little bit of wind this week.
PETER UIHLEIN: Yeah, I prefer playing in the wind. I don't like when it's calm and it's like a shootout. I prefer when it's windy and you've got to work the ball. Hopefully the rain doesn't hit us -- I just remember when it came out of the north it was bad here, but I feel like this time of year was tornadoes. I don't really remember there being storms.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, this is the time of year.
PETER UIHLEIN: Who knows what's going to happen. But I remember tornadoes at this time.
Q. Peter, with all the differences on the LIV Tour versus the PGA TOUR like the shorts and everything, what are your favorite things that you've noticed from the switch?
PETER UIHLEIN: Shorts. I don't get fined if I untuck my shirt, which helps. Pace of play, all that. I like the music. I like all of it. Just very comfortable out here. I like the team aspect, and everyone has been great, and it's been a lot of fun.
Q. Talor, your dad told me this week that you love when the crowd is rowdy. Do you expect them to be pretty loud and into it this weekend?
TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, for sure. It's golf but louder, right? We kind of laugh at times, there's a few of the volunteers that will have like the little signs that say like be quiet or something like that, and we're like, that kind of doesn't add up right here.
But no, it's great. At the end of the day, all of us golfers love sports, and golf is unique to most other sports in that the fans can't get rowdy, can't get crazy often, and so kind of chauffeuring some of this new style of fans and the way that you can come out here and you don't have to feel like you're walking on eggshells as a fan, and it's an event. There's music. We can hear the music now. There's fan zones around here. That's what I keep telling people. I'm excited for Oklahomans to come out and see what a cool sporting event LIV Golf is.
We all love it, and it's an opportunity for us to feel like sportsmen rather than just golfers.
Q. Charles, I want to know what your favorite Mike Holder story is.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Eligible for print?
I will say this: There's obviously a lot of stories that go to obviously extreme crazy things, but I'd say the one thing I took away from him was when I went into school, I was a bit intimidated, a bit nervous. I didn't quite know like am I good enough to be here, whatever, and I think the one thing I took from him is if you're willing to work hard, he would literally stay on the driving range with you until dark to help you.
I've got many, many times of that with him. Coach Holder really put in me like the effort and the process that goes into it. He cared much more about than the end result.
I think going into school, I kind of thought it was the flip-flop of that with him, but actually getting there and watching how much he helped us, how much he cared, how much he cared about the work and effort we put into it, yeah, I think that's things I've carried with me on through, even though there was plenty of moments where he'd get on to us and whatnot, but that was one of the biggest things I took from him.
Q. Talor, I've gotten to spend some time with the Rangegoats teammates and they were talking about the ribbing, the trash talk amongst each other. In the last year or so we've found out how you guys as professional golfers are friends. Can you talk about the team aspect of ribbing each other and getting on to each other and how that's now a part of what this circuit is.
TALOR GOOCH: Like I was just saying, I grew up playing different sports, and in professional golf up to this point there really wasn't that locker room feel like you didn't really have teammates. It's just fun having teammates that, like I say, you can talk some trash to but you can also hold accountable, that you can try to push to be better and be pushed to be better.
For someone that loves sports and grew up playing football, baseball, basketball, I love the locker room feel, and I love having people that are going to hold you accountable.
Yeah, that's been great, and it's obviously fun when you have someone like a Harold out there talking trash to not only his own teammates but everyone. He just brings a great energy to LIV and to our team.
Yeah, hey, the locker room feel that we have here is unlike anything in professional golf, and I love it.
Q. Pete, I have a feeling there's a lot of trash talking going on on the 4 Aces. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
PETER UIHLEIN: Yeah, Pat is not short of words, is he. He's great, though. I love hanging out with him.
Talor saw last year. Pat Perez and P-Reed, and once those two boys get going, they don't really stop. Then DJ is the quietest one of us all, I think. It's fun. It's a good dynamic, so we have a good time.
Q. Talor, you played here in the U.S. Am. Peter, you were in that field, as well. Charles, have you played here before?
CHARLES HOWELL III: Never in competition, but yes.
Q. Can you give us your thoughts on the course?
PETER UIHLEIN: They switched the nines, right? We're playing it as the 12th hole, but I remember that hole early on. That was the only one I remembered. I just remember it being a quirky hole. Still is. You have to hit like 4- or 5-iron off the tee. They added some flagpoles I think to not let us try and drive the green. Still tried it yesterday but it didn't work.
I remember it being in good shape. I remember it being tough. Every time I come back to Oklahoma I forget all the elevation. There's a decent amount of elevation here always. That's kind of what I remember a bit. It should be a good test.
TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, so when I played the U.S. Am here, I think I was like 16 or 17 years old, and I just remember thinking, I need to get better because these golf courses are hard.
I shot -- I vividly remember shooting 77 at Southern Hills the first round, and then I think I shot like 67 or 68 here, and I think I hit like five or six greens. It was like the epitome of the 16 year old that just makes everything he looks at. I'll see if I can try to channel some of that 16-year-old me again.
CHARLES HOWELL III: Yeah, I played here quite a few times with Bo Van Pelt, who obviously I played one year with, and he lives in the Tulsa area. Golf course is really good. A lot of crosswinds. Obviously the defense is the wind, but it will blow.
Yeah, you don't really get a lot of holes straight down or straight into. You get some quirkiness. It's got a couple of good par-3s on it. Throw in a couple of the par-5s and par-4s, as well. Yeah, it's a touch test, but I'd say the crosswinds of it is probably the biggest part of it.
Q. The OSU fraternity, we know how tight it is. When you see someone like Eugenio, a young golfer, what advice do you give to him in his first year, and how much do you see him being that next generation for the sport?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I think he's a heck of a player. Obviously he's already won on LIV. Typical Spanish, emotional, passionate, can complain, and you know where you stand with him. He doesn't hide much.
No, I love him. He's going to be a hell of a player. I've often thought what it must be like to start your professional career on LIV. I can assure you we all didn't.
One of my first events as a pro was the John Deere Classic. I think the purse was $2Â½ million, the whole purse, and first prize is a million-five more than that now. If I had his talent starting here, I'd be a happy guy.
TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, I mean, he got thrown into the fire right out of the gate. You're kind of learning by trial and error.
All of us are obviously going to always help give advice and advise, and I think each one of us has had such different unique paths in our career that we're all going to give different advice. Like Charles said, he's a stud. He's going to figure it out. He has figured all of it out already.
It's just the journey that the professional golf career is that you've got to go through it to learn what makes you better, what gets you going, and none of us can really teach that to someone or advice someone on that. You've got to kind of go through it yourself. But we're always here to lend advice and give a helping hand to everyone.
Charles has been like a mentor to me ever since I became a professional golfer and especially once I got to the PGA TOUR. Ironically I first played a professional golf round with Charles at Mayakoba my rookie year. He put his arm around me and said, Tuesday, 7:00 a.m. every week, come to the first tee and come play a practice round.
Yeah, it's cool having people like Charles and Bo Van Pelt and Bob Tway and Scott Verplank. It's part of what makes Oklahoma State great is you have these people that have done it and you get to ask questions and learn.
PETER UIHLEIN: Yeah, Geno has got all the talent in the world, hits it unbelievable. I like the team that he's on. I think being with Sergio and Abe and Carlos, I think that's a good fit for him, and they can take him under their wing a little bit, and Sergio is obviously one of the best players, and just being able to practice and play with him all the time will be really great for his development.
Yeah, thrilled for him. Excited for him. Hope he keeps it going.
Q. When you guys were at OSU, you only really had one option, to go to the PGA TOUR. Now there's obviously two options. Do you think guys that are playing on the college golf team now are thinking, hey, I hope I can get a spot on LIV?
CHARLES HOWELL III: I would think so.
PETER UIHLEIN: I went to Europe right away. At that time there was another option.
TALOR GOOCH: I thought it was cool. I forget who told me this, but they were like -- in Australia, there was such a great crowd and there were so many kids out there, and it was the first time when someone said, you know, there's going to be kids that haven't seen professional golf and they're going to walk away from LIV Adelaide and think, I want to go play for the Aces or I want to go play for Smash or whoever. To me that was cool to think like kids are going to want to grow up watching -- until this point, like the PGA TOUR was it.
It's pretty cool to think that we're a part of something that kids are going to aspire to be and aspire to come and take our spots. That was cool to me. So there's no doubt that Oklahoma State, there's going to be kids coming through that are going to want to be the next Charles Howell on LIV, going to want to be the next Pete on LIV, and that's cool.
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