Talor Gooch, of Smash GC, hits from the third tee...

Talor Gooch, of Smash GC, hits from the third tee during the final round of LIV Golf Las Vegas at Las Vegas Country Club, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. Credit: AP/Mike Stobe

Music was blaring, light beams danced around the arena and a large video board showed highlights of recent winners. This had the sound and feel of LIV Golf, except it was a little more dangerous and tougher to keep score.

This was the Professional Bull Riders series, which 30 years ago broke away from the established Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association with hopes of creating a new league in which fans knew they’d be seeing the best bull riders competing together.

So perhaps it makes perfect sense that Talor Gooch is now an owner of PBR’s newest team.

Gooch, a three-time winner on LIV who won the individual title last year, and his FJS Ventures now own the Oklahoma Wildcatters. Along with a new team in New York, that makes it 10 teams that will compete in a 12-event series starting in July.

Oklahoma previously had a team that relocated to Florida.

“Bringing a bull riding team back to Oklahoma where we intend to build a championship-caliber team in the state I love is a dream come true,” Gooch said in a news release. “I’ve always been a PBR fan. Team competition makes the sport even more exciting, generates coverage and creates rabid local fan bases.”

Gooch and his manager, Preston Lyon of Lyon Sports Group, formed FJS Ventures to invest, operate and own sports properties. The Oklahoma Wildcatters is the first business venture.

First-place team champions Captain Brooks Koepka, of Smash GC, Jason...

First-place team champions Captain Brooks Koepka, of Smash GC, Jason Kokrak, Graeme McDowell and Talor Gooch pose with the trophy after the final round of LIV Golf Las Vegas at Las Vegas Country Club, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Las Vegas. Credit: AP/Montana Pritchard/LIV Golf

PBR Teams launched in 2022 and features 5-on-5 bull riding games. Gooch’s team will get a homestand July 12-14 at Paycom Center in Oklahoma City.

Alas, Gooch will have to miss the homestand. LIV Golf is playing in Spain that week.

REVOLVING BOOTH CHAIR

Luke Donald is up next in what continues to be an audition to be the top golf analyst for NBC.

Luke Donald, of England, hits from the fairway at the...

Luke Donald, of England, hits from the fairway at the second hole during the first round of the Phoenix Open golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Credit: AP/Ross D. Franklin

Donald, serving his second stint as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain after winning in Rome last fall, will be the lead analyst at the Cognizant Classic this week and the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill the following week.

He is the second Ryder Cup captain from Europe in the chair, after Paul McGinley worked two events in December. NBC still has not settled on a permanent replacement since Paul Azinger left last year.

Others who filled in were Kevin Kisner (Kapalua and Phoenix), Brandel Chamblee (Palm Springs) and caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay last week at the Mexico Open.

“I love the game of golf so I’m so thankful to have been given this opportunity and chance to take on the role of lead analyst for NBC Sports over the next two weeks, combining my passion for the sport with my knowledge as a player to deliver inside-the-ropes insight to the national U.S. audience,” Donald said.

Donald’s five PGA Tour wins include what then was the Honda Classic. He also reached No. 1 in the world and fought Rory McIlroy for the top ranking for eight months to start the 2012 season. He has eight other victories on the European tour and Japan Golf Tour.

Tommy Roy, the lead producer for NBC’s golf coverage, said he was impressed with how Donald handled his role as Ryder Cup captain and provided good insight to the media in his interviews. He also noted the 56 weeks that Donald spent at No. 1 in the world.

“We think Luke will bring all of that to the broadcast booth,” Roy said.

KNAPP MEMENTO

Jake Knapp’s trophy collection now includes a PGA Tour title from the Mexico Open at Vidanta, along with three titles from PGA Tour Canada.

There’s also a golf ball from the Accenture Match Play at La Costa Resort north of San Diego.

Knapp was 11.

He didn’t have a lot of options for attending PGA Tour events, but the Match Play was about an hour from his house in Costa Mesa, California.

The year was 2006. Among the 32 first-round matches was Tiger Woods against Stephen Ames. It didn’t last long. Woods won, 9 and 8, the largest margin in tournament history.

Knapp’s strongest memory was hounding Woods’ caddie, Steve Williams, for a golf ball.

“I was standing back by the 10th tee. They walked right by and I asked him for a ball and neither of them really did anything,” Knapp said. “They walked into the locker room and I was like, ‘Dang, there they go.’ Then 10 seconds later Stevie walked out and he was like, ‘Hey, kid,’ tossed me his ball.”

Knapp said it’s the only piece of sports memorabilia he cherishes.

“Still got it in the same little plastic case sitting on my shelf at home,” he said.

BARTLETT AWARD

Jim Furyk has been been selected to receive the Charlie Bartlett Award from the Golf Writers Association of America for unselfish contributions to the betterment of society.

The award is given to a playing professional. Furyk will accept alongside his wife, Tabitha, who oversees the day-to-day operations at the Jim & Tabitha Furyk Foundation.

The foundation’s biggest annual fundraiser is a golf tournament at Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville, Florida, that began 13 years ago and now is part of the PGA Tour Champions schedule. It has raised more than $3.5 million in the last three years for area charities.

The foundation also helps two children’s hospitals and area food needs such as “Hope for the Holidays” that delivered 6,000 holiday bags to families in need between Thanksgiving and Christmas last year.

This is the second GWAA award for Furyk, who also received the Jim Murray Award for his cooperation with the media. Furyk will be among those honored at the GWAA’s annual awards dinner April 10 in Augusta, Georgia.

TOP 103 IN THE WORLD

Patrick Reed won the Wyndham Championship in a playoff over Jordan Spieth in 2013 and moved up to No. 64 in the world. He stayed in the top 100 ever since then, a streak that ended this week.

Reed was among the first to join Saudi-funded LIV Golf, which does not receive world ranking points largely because it has the same small (54 players) field each week and there is a concurrent team competition.

While he has played 14 times on the Asian and European tours, he has registered only four top-10 finishes. He dropped this week to No. 103.

And he never made it to No. 5 in the world.

Reed said when he won a World Golf Championship at Doral in 2014 that he felt he was a “top 5 player in the world,” even though he was No. 20. He reached No. 6 in the world in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted golf. He tied for seventh at Colonial when golf resumed, but then missed two of his next three cuts. And he never got any closer.

DIVOTS

Ronald Rugumayo earned a slice of history last week when he became the first player from Uganda to make the cut on the European tour at the Magical Kenya Open. He previously made two cuts on the Sunshine Tour and one cut on the Big Easy Tour in South Africa. ... Dustin Johnson’s victory in Las Vegas made him the first player to win in each of the three seasons of LIV Golf. Among those with a chance to match him this week in Saudi Arabia are Brooks Koepka and Cameron Smith. ... Ryan Palmer is playing the Cognizant Classic this week, his 500th career start on the PGA Tour.

STAT OF THE WEEK

Only two American players from Anthony Kim's Ryder Cup team in 2008 still have PGA Tour status — Stewart Cink, who splits time on the PGA Tour Champions, and J.B. Holmes, who has a major medical extension.

FINAL WORD

“If Rory McIlroy goes and completes his Grand Slam without some of the best players in the world, there’s just going to be an asterisk. It’s just the reality." — Talor Gooch to Australian Golf Digest on the Masters using the world ranking for its field and leaving out LIV Golf players.

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