'I'm not that smart' – Talor Gooch disputes sportswashing claims at LIV Golf

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Talor Gooch has claimed criticism of LIV Golf stars for sportswashing is not fair, explaining: "I'm not that smart... golf is hard enough."

Gooch has been named as one of 12 team captains for the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series.

The two-time PGA Tour winner will captain Torque GC, with bigger names like Phil Mickelson – leading Hy Flyers GC – and Dustin Johnson – of 4 Aces GC – among his opponents.

All of those to abandon the PGA Tour for the new project have come in for scrutiny given the source of the huge financial backing the breakaway league has.

LIV Golf is being funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), linking the series to a country with a hugely concerning human rights record.

As with other PIF acquisitions, such as Premier League club Newcastle United, LIV Golf has been highlighted as an example of sportswashing for the Saudi regime.

But this suggestion was put to Gooch on Tuesday, as he faced the media at the event's launch.

"I don't think that's fair," he said. "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."

Gooch has earned $9million over his entire PGA Tour career; a single win at one of these events would fetch almost half of that at $4m. Even the player in last place at each regular season tournament will receive $120,000.

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