Select Page

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — Talor Gooch and Charles Howell III were having a conversation during LIV Golf Bangkok last fall, discussing the future of the league.

LIV Golf’s plans weren’t secret. The league planned to expand its schedule beyond the eight events it held in its inaugural season, but nothing was set in stone yet.

The two former Oklahoma State golfers wanted to bring a professional event to Oklahoma, preferably somewhere in the Oklahoma City or Tulsa area. That prompted Howell to reach out to a few courses in the state.

“I relied 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,” Howell said.

More LIV Tulsa: See what’s in the merchandise tent

Cedar Ridge Country Club, which sits in Broken Arrow, a southern suburb of Tulsa, is the site of this week’s LIV Golf event, the sixth of the season and a week before the PGA Championship in Western New York. However, it wasn’t the only course that LIV reached out to in Oklahoma.

LIV Golf reached out to Oak Tree National in Edmond, site of the 1988 PGA Championship, as well as Gaillardia Country Club in Oklahoma City. LIV Golf and Gaillardia, which has hosted PGA Tour Champions events, nearly had a deal in place before it fell through, leaving the door open for Cedar Ridge.

There were also a pair of courses LIV talked to in the Tulsa area, but it was Howell’s conversation with Billy Lowry, the president at Cedar Ridge, that propelled the conversation forward.

Cedar Ridge has a history of high-level golf. It hosted the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open, an LPGA event from 2004-08, and was a subsite for the 2009 U.S. Amateur, which was played mainly at Southern Hills Country Club, a mere 10 minutes from Cedar Ridge and the site of the 2022 PGA Championship.

“I knew it would work well. I know (fans) like their golf here,” Howell said. “You couldn’t write a better script with Talor winning the previous two events and coming back into his home state.”

Gooch is the first back-to-back winner on LIV, winning events in Adelaide and Singapore before an off week. Now, he’s back in Oklahoma, but there are plenty more golfers who have ties to the Sooner State.

Of LIV Golf’s 48 players, six played collegiately in Oklahoma: Howell, Gooch, Matthew Wolff, Peter Uihlein and Eugenio Chacarra played at Oklahoma State, and Abraham Ancer all played for Oklahoma. That’s one-eighth of the LIV field having a connection to Oklahoma.

“I think it’s such a great crowd for golf,” Ancer said. “We’re going to hear a lot of people supporting me and — well, I’m surrounded this week. I think we’ve got five or six Pokes out here this week, but I’m going to try my best to beat them.”

Added Chacarra: “I think the state of Oklahoma deserves good fields, good tournaments, and there’s going to be a lot of people.”

Come this week, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and others will get another taste of Oklahoma golf, this time at Cedar Ridge when LIV Golf Tulsa gets underway Friday. For some, it’s a final tune-up before heading to Oak Hill next week.

LIV wanted to sign a two-year deal with Cedar Ridge, but the club only approved a one-year contract. The club and its membership have discussed building a new clubhouse with a hefty price tag, but the interest to host LIV Golf in Oklahoma remains even after this year.

LIV is expecting nearly 10,000 fans during the event, though forecasted rainy weather could hamper those numbers. Nevertheless, Oklahoma is a state with plenty of golf tradition, and Cedar Ridge will add to it this week by hosting LIV Golf.

“It’s all worked out really well for us,” Howell said. “I hope everybody has a wonderful week here. I think the fan support will be good, and hopefully, we can come back.”