First Off: Tiger and Joe Lacava split; Talor Gooch can stop complaining now; Bronte Law nailed it
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First Off: Tiger and Joe Lacava split; Talor Gooch can stop complaining now; Bronte Law nailed it

A picture of golfer Tiger Woods Tiger Woods tees off on the 17th hole during the first round at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot Golf Club (West Course) in Mamaroneck, N.Y. on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020. (Darren Carroll/USGA)

Welcome to First Off, my new daily recap and reaction feature for Golf News Net members. Catch up on everything happening in the golf world each morning in an easy-to-consume format with commentary -- and sometimes insight -- to get your day started.

In today's kick-off edition:

  1. Tiger Woods and Joe Lacava split
  2. Talor Gooch isn't done complaining yet
  3. Bronte Law was right to lay out the truth

To kick off the new membership, First Off is free this week! But there are so many benefits to our new membership. Sign up to join and see all we have to offer.

The end of Tiger and Joe

Joe Lacava has a new bag. He's now working with Patrick Cantlay full-time in a decision that came as a bit of a shocker at the Wells Fargo Championship. Cantlay had stopped working with former looper Matt Minister after the Zurich Classic, and it seemed at first that Lacava was stepping in on a temporary basis as he had done previously. But nope, this is permanent.

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Woods gave his blessing to this, and it's indicative perhaps of where hesees his future in competitive golf. It was already limited, but it could be quite a while until Woods is ready to play again. Even when he is, it will be in no more than a half-dozen events each year. Why limit Lacava's earning potential, then, by keeping him salaried in the meanwhile? Exactly. Tiger knew it was time.

Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Lacava described a phone conversation he had with Woods about the opportunity.

"Tiger’s not going to play much going forward," LaCava said. "Obviously he’s not retiring. But he’s going to play two to six tournaments a year. Tiger and I have talked about if something were to come up, feel free to do something. 'I know how much you miss it, how much you love caddying.' And when this opportunity arose, I checked with Tiger. And he said you’re crazy not to take the job, go forward, go win some tournaments, go have a great time."

It's been a great run for Woods and Lacava, with multiple comebacks to the top of the mountain. But this was an opportunity too good to miss.

Talor, just stop

Talor Gooch isn't in the US Open right now, and he's not happy about it. And he won't stop talking about it, particularly on Twitter and into any live microphone he can access. His gripe comes from the USGA announcing in February that they had slightly changed the wording of an exemption. The change? The USGA would no longer invite "all players who qualified for the Tour Championship" but rather "all players who qualified and were eligible for the Tour Championship."

When Gooch went to LIV before playing in the Tour Championship, he was deemed ineligible by the PGA Tour so that the Tour could have a 30-player field based on who was still on their tour. That makes sense. The USGA changed their exemption in solidarity with the PGA Tour's qualification criteria for the Tour Championship.

Gooch just started complaining about this, though, having known about this for several months. He thought he was in because he got into the Masters that way (though they're changing the wording for next year to reflect the same tweak). Well, since he didn't sign up for US Open qualifying, his lone path into the US Open now is by finishing inside the top four at the PGA Championship in a few weeks. He's capable of doing that. He just won twice in a row on LIV. So do that instead of whine at every given opportunity.

The LIV players and their most vocal online fans love to complain about the golf establishment colluding against them, as though this is shocking. Pretty much every major governing body in golf has indicated a lack of sympathy for LIV, as well as solidarity with the PGA Tour. It should be no surprise that this change happened. Besides, the USGA does this on an annual basis. They're always upsetting someone. Back in 2018, Patton Kizzire didn't get in the US Open despite winning multiple times on the PGA Tour that season because the USGA had gotten rid of the old exemption for any player who had won multiple times in a season on the PGA Tour. That was controversial. Kizzire took it like a champ. The next year? The exemption was back.

Gooch and his backers are obviously within their right to not like and complain about the change. But they totally could have seen this coming, and no one that could change the outcome is going to do that.

Laying down the Law

The LPGA's International Crown is back this week, played at TPC Harding Park. There are eight country-based teams of four players, including one from England. On Monday, it was announced both Georgia Hall and Charley Hull -- top-20 players in the world -- were withdrawing from the competition, citing an injury and illness, respectively. They were replaced by Alice Hewson and Liz Young, players who frequent the Ladies European Tour and have been successful pros. Still, the last-minute WD was shocking, and England's Bronte Law was not thrilled to learn about this secondhand and at the last minute, come Sunday.

She laid it all out on Tuesday in a pre-tournament news conference.

"Very happy to have both Alice and Liz are here. They're both very patriotic, very team oriented, and I think that that's a testament to kind of what this tournament is about and is more important than the individuals in the team," she said. "Just really happy to have them both here, and I know that they'll fight with everything that they've got."

Law said she "didn't get any sort of message from the two that decided to not play." She added, "I think anyone with some level of decency would send their teammates a message that they weren't coming, not find out from other players on Tour who have heard things from them saying things at the tournament last week. I don't think that that's a lot to ask for."

Law added that on Tuesday she received "a message from Charley apologizing saying she was sorry she couldn't play, but that's it."

This competition is a big deal on the LPGA, and it's the rare team event on the schedule. Law was right to feel upset, and good on her for calling it out when asked about it instead of sidestepping it.

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]

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