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October 11, 2023

Cam Smith

Talor Gooch

Bryson DeChambeau

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Let's welcome some of the star power here at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club. We're joined by LIV Golf season points leaders, Cam Smith, captain of Ripper GC, Talor Gooch from the RangeGoats GC, and Bryson DeChambeau, captain of Crushers GC.

Welcome, guys.

The individual season is reaching its climax this week in Jeddah. Can you tell us how you're feeling this week going into the final event of the season?

CAM SMITH: Yeah, it's a good spot to be in. I think everyone out here wanted to probably be in our position at the end of this week, so it's definitely a good spot to be in.

I know we've had a couple of weeks off since Chicago, didn't play my best there, so a couple good weeks of practice and feeling good going into this week.

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, like Cam said, going back to the first tournament of the year, if you could have told me, hey, this is where you're going to be coming into the last event, you'd take it. In a good place, and like Cam said, had a couple weeks off and was able to get a little bit of practice in and didn't practice for this heat, but that's just -- you know what you're getting into this week.

Yeah, excited for the week and ready to have a good one.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, very lucky to be here. A lot of hard work. If you would have told me I'd be here starting Mayakoba, shoot, even two months ago, I'd certainly have taken it. Very excited to be here, honored, and it's going to be a solid week, I think.

A lot of heat. Got to take care of the caddies, take care of yourself, make sure you've got enough in you, and it's really about who can come out here and perform the best under the most extreme heat they've probably played in, and if you can do that, you'll be fine.

Q. Cam, you're our points race leader coming into LIV Golf Jeddah. Consistency has really been a key for you this year with six top 10s, two wins in London and Bedminster. Can you talk us through this year and really flying the flag for Australia with your Ripper GC team?

CAM SMITH: Yeah, it's been good. I think from a team perspective, we could have done a little bit better, but we had a good win there in Bedminster, and I think that sets us up for a nice week in Miami. Miami has a lot of similarities to the course there, so we're feeling really confident going into next week.

For myself, yeah, consistency has been good. I probably didn't get off to the greatest start to the season, but a lot of hard work and a lot of digging deep to get those couple of wins, and yeah, it's really nice to be in this spot. Hopefully I can finish it off this week.

Q. Talor, some takeaways for you this year. You're currently second in the standings, had some great success abroad winning in Adelaide, Singapore and AndalucĂ­a. Can you sum up your 2023 LIV Golf season and playing in some of these global destinations?

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, if you would have told the beginning of the season I would have had three wins, I obviously would have taken it. It's been a culmination of years of hard work and patience. I've never won three times in a season as a professional golfer.

You know, it's been a great year. We've played great. I played really well last year, and I couldn't close out some tournaments.

Some of that experience of failing last year I think kind of set me up to succeed for this year when I was in those same positions.

Just continuing to build confidence and comfort coming down the stretch is something everyone is striving to do, and having done it, you just get more and more comfortable with it.

It's been a great year, and hopefully we can cap it off with a great week this week.

Q. Bryson, Mr. 58, you currently sit in third place on the podium, but arguably coming in with the best form in the field with two wins in your last three outings. You must be feeling pretty confident about your chances coming into LIV Golf Jeddah this week?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, but you have to respect the field. This field is incredibly talented. You have 48 of the best players in the world, and man, it's always a grind out here. I think that's a testament to how good these guys have played and how consistent they've played throughout the year. It shows how good they are. Three wins, two wins, all the top 10s he's had, I didn't get off to that great of a start, but kept picking away at it, and surely we're here now with a chance to claim that title, which is great, but it's going to be tough to get to these guys.

Sure, I'm playing well, but again, you've got to be set up for success each and every week, and heat is a big factor. This golf course sets up really nice for me, but you can still wedge your way around it out here and make some nice putts, and that changes things.

You've always got to be careful and just work as hard as you possibly can because these guys are incredibly good out here.

Q. One eye on next week at the team championships in Miami. Crushers are currently second in the standings. What would a podium finish in both the individual and team championship mean to you?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Oh, I mean, that would mean the world. That's what we've all fought for. Charles started off really good this year, and he's been consistent. Ban has played incredibly well, and Paul is picking it up, and I'm excited for the team come Miami. We lost to the Stingers, and it was a big sting - no pun intended or pun intended I guess - but we want to change that narrative this next week.

Q. Cam and Talor, there's so many scenarios in play about how you guys finish and how it works out against everybody else. Do you go into the tournament thinking you're going to have to win to nail this down, or are you looking at any of those scenarios?

CAM SMITH: I think that's kind of the mindset every week is to come here to win, so I don't think it's really any different to any other week. For sure there's a little bit more up for grabs this week. You have to acknowledge that and really get on your toes and just try and go out there and win the tournament.

I think it's the same as every other week. But yeah, more stuff to play for.

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, I keep telling everybody, you just know that the two of these guys are going to have a good week this week, and the only way to know that you're going to get the job done is just to go and win.

I've used the term a lot the rule of 67. I'm just going to control what I can control, try and shoot 67 and lower each day and see where the chips fall.

I know the only scenario that I have control of is if I go and win and that takes care of everything, and kind of like every other sport, winning kind of takes care of everything. That's the goal, and that's what we're going to try to do.

Q. Bryson, I think you pretty much have to finish in the top 3 to have any kind of shot, but also you're the only one of the three that aren't guaranteed a top-3 finish right now. How do you balance that chasing the championship versus making sure that you don't drop out of the top 3?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: It's just a focus on winning. That's all it is. I don't know what else to say. If you try to think, oh, I've got to save my spot, you're not in the right mindset. You shouldn't be there.

Q. Just in terms of looking at the leaderboard this week, will you have any different look at it? Will you be looking at the other two guys out there?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: I'll just say real quick, I leaderboard watch every single week and I love it. It's a lot of fun. It's interesting to see how you move and how you flow.

It's one of those things that I try not to let those things affect me, and the more I embrace it, the better I can handle it.

CAM SMITH: Yeah, I'm a leaderboard watcher, too. I love watching it. I don't know if I'll be keeping an eye out for these guys as much, but definitely the other team members, it's fun to watch and see how they're going.

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, same, especially this week for us with the RangeGoats. It's a big week for us. We have a chance to go and get a first-round bye, so I'm definitely going to be keeping a big eye on the team and making sure that hopefully we're all playing well.

Like Cam said, I'm especially going to be paying attention to the team this week.

Q. Bryson, after Singapore you were 38th in points. Was there something maybe at that point that kind of gave you hope, gave you confidence that you were going to reach a new level the rest of the season and get to this point?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, a new driver. That kind of helped. That's really ultimately what did it. I played well at Valderrama but I was still hitting the driver pretty far off line. No. 11 I duck-hooked it pretty much three times off the tee. Luckily I found the first ball, but you can't --

TALOR GOOCH: You're so lucky.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: But one of those things that you just can't have happen if you're looking to win a golf tournament.

Luckily I've found something that works for me. That's what changed the mindset and changed everything for me.

Q. Talk about what it would mean to be a season-long champion, not just all the other benefits but just the fact that you would have finished at the top of the season-long standings.

CAM SMITH: Yeah, I think that's what you want to do. That's definitely the goal at the start of the year.

I think being the first one ever for a full season would be kind of cool. This only happens once, so yeah, it would be nice to clinch that first one for sure.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, the same thing. To be No. 1 on the list at the end of the year with these 48 great players, it's what you'd want going into the year, but also you'd want that any place you're at. Beginning of the year you've just got to start off thinking, look, this is the goal, can't get too focused on it, but again, this week, it's just about playing the best you possibly can, and if it happens, it would be a tremendous honor, and if not, then keep moving forward.

But it would be pretty special.

Q. Talor, have you ever been a season-long champion before?

TALOR GOOCH: No, I haven't. Like Cam said, with this being the first full season out here, to be the first guy to win that would be special and something you're always going to look back on and be proud of. That's obviously not a driving factor but something that you know -- you think about.

Q. Bryson, you posted your reaction about the World Rankings yesterday. Can you kind of expound on your thoughts?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: I think I said what was necessary in that quote, I guess you could say. It's just been par for the course, unfortunately, and I think at this point in time now that they're not allowing it, we would love to find another way to be integrated into the major championship system since I think we have some of the best players in the world. Top 12 on the list, the Money List at the end of the year or the points list at the end of the year would be, I think, obvious for the major championships to host the best players in the world at those four events each year.

That's really my thoughts on it. I don't think there's much more to be said. It's honestly sad that they've done that, and people are going to say that it's sad that we came over here, but it's like, look, this is an amazing opportunity for every one of us. I think we've told that narrative quite a bit, and we want to continue to change and grow the game in places like Saudi Arabia, like Singapore, like Australia, numerous places we've all been throughout this year, and we're going to continue to do so over the course of time. I think that's what's needed, I think it's what's necessary, and I think we are doing a solid job of it so far, and it's only going to get better.

In regards to the OWGR, it is what it is.

Q. $18 million, the bonus to the guy who wins the individual championship. Quite a few people are talking about it. But can you just give us an idea of the kind of amazing things that you guys are doing to grow the game, for example, Bryson, you told me that your learning center should be operational at the end of the year, and Talor, you have done so much for golf back home, Cam. Can you give us an idea what you guys are up to on that front?

CAM SMITH: Yeah, I think from an early age, even from an early professional, I was able to kind of be lucky, I guess, and succeed a lot. One of the things that I always had on my mind was making golf a better place in Australia. That's always been really close to me. It's something that I'm passionate about. For sure that would go a long way into helping a lot of kids hopefully be here one day, be at the majors, and I want to see more Aussies on leaderboards around the world.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, like I talked about to you earlier, my goal in the game of golf is to grow the game of golf as much as I can. There's 100 million golfers right now. I think that should be a lot more moving forward.

One of the initiatives that I have is building some junior academies across the country, and we've got a few that are in the works. Should be operational next year.

We had to do some things, so it's not going to be functional by the end of this year, but next year we'll have it. That's going to be pretty special to see children's lives changed because of it.

Having kids under the age of 12 be able to play golf and hit golf balls for free, that's something that is not really known nowadays. There was the First Tee program when I was growing up and it was $5 for a round of golf and it was amazing to have that, but getting to a place where these kids have access, more kids have access to the game of golf is something that would change people's lives forever, and that's where that's going to go.

TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, similarly speaking, I'm from Oklahoma, and we've been able to, through our foundation, bring more junior golf tournaments to the state and support the current junior golf tour, the OJGT, Oklahoma Junior Golf Tour, in Oklahoma to give more kids a chance to play tournament golf.

I've always had the goal and the dream of doing more than just helping people outside of -- helping more people than just the golf world, so we've been able to partner with a few organizations back home that focus on really just giving kids an opportunity to help, and that's through an organization called Positive Tomorrows that is a school that is for homeless kids from six months to sixth grade in the greater Oklahoma City area. We've been able to provide them with resources to go out and find more kids that are on the streets or that are on families' beds or in a homeless shelter and provide them and their family with more means to help get their kids educated, plain and simple.

I'm proud of where I'm from, and we're going to continue to work on supporting my hometown, my home state, both with golf but also outside of golf.

Obviously it's going to be youth focused. We want to help give the next generation a chance to better their lives and better our state, better our city, and just the rising tide lifts all ships, and that's kind of how we view what we're doing with our foundation.

That's a blessing that we've been able to do for the last couple years, and like I said, just the more success that I'm able to have on the golf course, it's just going to provide more and more means and resources to our foundation.

Q. At the start of the year, Cam and Bryson, you guys didn't have the best start. I know, Cam, you said you were a bit rusty, missed the cut. Bryson, you were struggling with your game. If you just look back at that place in January and now where you are, how amazing is that?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, I'll say that I just needed a new driver.

No, I mean, I was definitely rusty and hadn't practiced as much as I probably should have. It's one of those things that golf can come bite you in the butt real quick if you're not on top of your game. There are stretches, there are moments where you don't have to practice as hard as you feel like you're on top of the world. Then there are times where you're practicing as hard as you can and you're not getting anywhere, you're sludging through mud.

I think it's just the psychotic nature that we all have in us that we want to just keep working hard and keep trying to figure it out to be the best we can be. That certainly was the case for me is just continuing to grind it out.

I'll never forget in Singapore I was asking my teammates what do I do, I have no idea where my golf ball is going. Certainly having a good team around you, having your family around you is a big deal out here, and I think that's what makes LIV Golf so special and allows us to be the best we can possibly be.

CAM SMITH: Yeah, I was a bit rusty, I think I said a few times at the start of the year. I spent a fair bit of time down in Australia, probably had a few too many pies and a few too many beers.

But yeah, golf really wasn't the focus. It was the first time I'd been home in three years, so it was nice to catch up with some friends and family that I hadn't seen for a long time. Golf kind of took a backseat there, and you could really tell at the start of the year. It was really not that good at all, to be fair.

Yeah, it's definitely in a much better spot than what it was in January.

Q. Bryson, what's the mood in the team like going into this week, knowing that you guys can actually become the No. 1 team going to Miami?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: The team mood is just having fun, enjoying what we're doing out here, taking each shot, hitting it the best we possibly can, and letting my boys do their thing. They're an incredible team. They're great golfers. They've done a lot in the world of golf. I'm just going to let them go.

That's the way I try and coach and lead, I guess you could say, is be you. I was such a unique player -- I am such a unique player, and for me to have any precedence over the way someone plays, it's ridiculous.

They have been successful their whole careers. I put wiser people around me for a reason. I wanted them to actually give me input to see how I could be a better leader, a better facilitator of good golf.

Another thing, too, is my college golf coach, Josh Gregory, was good at leading us. He won two national championships with Augusta State, and luckily he was able to talk to me about his leadership, the way he ran his team, and it's actually bled over in a positive way into how I run the team and how I try to facilitate good golf for them, and it's just let them be. Add to it where you can and let them go, let them run.

Q. Bryson, this golf course historically has been very good for somebody who drives it long. Given the state of your game, what would you think would be your chances this week?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: I feel like they're really good. You've still got to putt it well out here. The greens are a bit diabolical. The grain can affect the putts quite a bit. Long driving helps, hitting it far helps, but you've still got to get it in the fairway, and you can get in some interesting locations if you're not careful.

As I've done in the past out here. I've played here five times now. I've been in some crazy places.

Hopefully this will be week a little different and just grinding to hit every shot the best I can this week.

Q. Now that we've reached the end of the first full season, do you think 14 is the magic number now, or would you like to see a bit more, a bit less?

CAM SMITH: I think 14 is perfect. For me, I was fortunate enough to play four majors this year. I'm going to go down and play a couple events in Australia. I'm still playing 20 times in a year, and I think that's a really good number. I think that's a number where you can keep on top of your game. I think if it was any less, there's maybe a little bit too much practice in there and not too much competitive stuff, and you need to be competitive, especially to compete in those majors. I'm happy with 14.


TALOR GOOCH: Yeah, same. I love the aspect of the season from when we start to when we finish, it's still busy, and it's nice actually still having an off-season.

I agree with them. I think it's a really precise and good amount of tournaments.

Q. You've all been here before at Royal Greens and competed in different times of the year. How is it feeling for you throughout this time of the year, and do you think it's going to affect the way you play?

TALOR GOOCH: The course is in phenomenal shape right now. Obviously we're used to some wind out here, and we've seen it when it's warm and we have this type of weather. It's going to be a good challenge this week. You can't show up and expect birdies to come with these kind of conditions, but the course is in great shape.

If you do play well and you have control of your ball and you're able to get the putter going, you can have some success.

Again, the course is just so pure right now, it's nice to see it in such great shape, which is not uncommon, but especially the fairways and the greens. It's in really, really good shape right now.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, I would say that it's really hot. There's a lot of wind. It's about who can putt well on the greens and who can control the golf ball in the wind. If you can do those things well here, you can make some birdies. But it's not an easy test of golf when the wind is up like this. You get some tricky putts out there with the wind, and it can be diabolical. But it's definitely in great condition. I've always loved playing out here. It fits my game pretty well, and I love the place, love the people.

CAM SMITH: I think this is probably my fourth or fifth time here. This is probably the best I've seen the grounds. There's definitely a few -- it's definitely a lot tighter than what I think it typically is, a few more run-offs around the greens. It's nice.

I also think the landscaping out here is some of the prettiest stuff you'll be see in your life. It's a nice mix between challenging and looking pretty.

Q. In terms of how LIV Golf is different, the way you guys are playing here as teams, is it in a way making you guys play better? Is it in a way the fans and how the energy is different compared to a different tournament, a normal golf tournament? Is it making you guys play better? Is it affecting your game?

TALOR GOOCH: You know, I don't know if it's necessarily making us play better, but I always say we is bigger than me. When you're playing for someone more than just yourself, you're going to push yourself harder. When things are down, when things are tough, you have teammates to support and to just help push you to be better and to learn from.

I grew up playing team sports, and I love the team atmosphere. I love being in the locker room with teammates.

So for me, that was part of the intrigue of LIV Golf was being on a team and having teammates week in and week out to push you and support you and to just be with.

I love the team aspect, and it's cool getting to play outside of LIV and seeing that the fans are starting to catch on to the team aspect, and you're seeing team gear around, and last week I was in Scotland playing the Dunhill Links and I heard a bunch of "go RangeGoats" out there.

It's cool, and I think it's just a matter of time before more and more people continue to catch on and are fans of the team part.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, I think the team part is a big deal. It's the reason why I'm here. I love having guys to rely on. I've struggled in the past, and having those guys as a support system is huge. I wouldn't have been able to get through a lot of what I got through without them or I'd have been lost for a lot longer. Having them use their resources to help me be better is something that can't be understated -- or can't be overstated enough. It is the most important thing that has happened for me this year.

Always being able to -- say in the third round, if you're out of contention, say, oh, man, I've still got to play well for the team. So in a sense it has almost has made me play a little bit better. The third round, no matter where you're at, even in the beginning of the season I was always wanting to play well.

The first week in Mayakoba I wasn't playing well, I was out of contention, and Charles and Paul were playing really well, and I wanted to provide for the team. I hadn't provided at all. I was 0 for 2 in the first two days, and I wanted to shoot a good number for them.

In a sense it makes you play a lot better on those third rounds when you're out of contention. You always want to play for your team.

CAM SMITH: Yeah, I think it is definitely different out there. I think the fans, they're much rowdier typically. The music, I've said this before, I think the golf has a heartbeat -- the course, sorry, has a heartbeat, and it's a really energetic environment, which is something that's really different to most tournaments, and like these guys have reiterated, I think playing for a team, those weeks when you're not playing your best golf, you're digging deep for those guys and you're trying to get your team up there as much as you can.

I can't wait actually to get to Miami next week and play something fun and a different format. As golfers we don't get to do that too often. Yeah, it's always fun, and it's definitely different.

Q. Bryson, talk about your performance at Royal Greens. You've been here before and you've put out some great performances and great shots before. Are you planning to do the same, even better, or in terms of this year's Royal Greens compared to the other golf courses of LIV Golf, where does it stand? Where do you rank it?

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, I would say from my perspective, I always want to play better anywhere I'm at, especially the past performances haven't been too great out here, so I'm looking to change that quite a bit.

I would also say in regards to a ranking, it's definitely up there in regards to the way the golf course sits, the difficulty of some of the tee shots into certain greens, the conditions are amazing. That's one thing that I'm impressed with is how they're able to see it so green, so nice out here in such hot conditions. It's certainly impressive.

Again, how it ranks is right up there with some of the top golf courses we've played this year. So certainly excited and hoping to do better than I have in the past couple performances I've been here.

Q. In terms of this tournament compared the last event here for LIV Golf, what are the main differences in your opinion, apart from the obvious being like the first official one?

TALOR GOOCH: Last year I didn't have a chance to win the individual season title, so that's obviously a main difference. For the team aspect, last year our team already had a first-round bye. This year our team is one spot away from that. So our team has to play well this week to get a first-round bye next week. This year there's a lot more on the line than there was last year for me.

BRYSON DeCHAMBEAU: Yeah, playing for the individual title is huge, but we're lucky enough to have a bye into next week. A lot of it's honing our games, making sure we're ready for next week, playing well this week.

One difference, though, from last year is the greens are in better condition, too, and I'm excited to play on that. It's a little hotter, I think, but other than that, I'm excited for the week.

CAM SMITH: Yeah, I would say the biggest thing is obviously the individual stuff. But the condition of the golf course, like I said before, this is my fourth or fifth time here, and this is the best I've seen it by far. Really excited to get out there and play in some tough conditions, and I'm sure the guys are going to set it up tough this week, as well.

Looking for a good challenge before next week.

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