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Harold Varner interjects as Talor Gooch asked about making U.S. Ryder Cup team


You’ll rarely see Harold Varner III without a smile, but on Thursday, he turned serious.

During a team press conference with LIV Golf’s Range Goats — Talor Gooch, Bubba Watson, Thomas Pieters and Varner — ahead of this week’s event at The Greenbrier, Gooch was asked if U.S. Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson had reached out to him, with roughly a month until the American team is finalized.

“Not yet, no,” said Gooch, who leads LIV Golf with three individual wins this season.

Gooch was then asked: If you win this week, do you think that should put you on that team, with four wins in 10 events?

But Varner interjected.

“I think that’s a tough question,” Varner said. “No s--- he wants to play on the Ryder Cup team, and some people think he should be on the team. But if he’s playing, I would say yes every time. Who doesn’t want to represent their country?

“He’s playing absolutely great golf, so I think it’s a great question, but also I think it’s kind of hard for him to sit here and be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t think I should be on the Ryder Cup team.’ You know what I mean? I think that’s very difficult.”

Gooch bolted to the Saudi-backed circuit ahead of its inaugural event in London last June and has dropped from 35th to 107th in the world, as LIV events do not currently offer world ranking points.

Barred from playing PGA Tour events due to his defection, Gooch has been unable to earn Ryder Cup points outside of major championships. Though he decided not to enter U.S. Open qualifying after the USGA updated its verbiage in the exemption criteria and made him ineligible for the championship, he’s played in the other three majors this year, placing T-34 at the Masters but missing the cut at the PGA Championship and The Open.

Meanwhile, fellow LIV player Brooks Koepka is hoping to clinch an automatic berth on the U.S. team, sitting fourth in the standings after winning the PGA and finishing runner-up at the Masters (the top 6 as of Aug. 21 automatically qualify; though, Koepka can’t earn any more points).

Throughout the year, Johnson has mostly dodged questions publicly about LIV players making the Ryder Cup since calling the issue “irrelevant” at the PGA in May.

But with the Ryder Cup selection process quickly winding down, Gooch is just focused on playing well, and not on whether he should be in Rome this September — even though he’d love to be.

“I think that what I think doesn’t matter for it, unfortunately,” Gooch said Thursday, “so I’ll just continue to play good golf and let the people whose opinions matter, hopefully, we can sway them a little bit.”