Rory McIlroy is giving LIV Golf’s Talor Gooch a mulligan. Well, almost.

It was Gooch, the individual champion in last year’s LIV season after winning three events, who said in an Australian Golf Digest interview, “I think the majors have kind of shown that they’re not getting on board with LIV.”

The comments came in the aftermath of Augusta National Golf Club inviting LIV player Joaquin Niemann to compete in this year’s Masters, based on his strong performances on several tours.

LIV golfers rally around Talor Gooch after Masters snub

Gooch, a one-time PGA Tour winner who has fallen to 449th in the World Ranking, went further by saying that he thinks that should McIlroy win the Masters to complete a career majors grand slam, that it would come with an “asterisk.”

“It’s just the reality,” Gooch said. “I think everybody wins whenever majors figure out a way to get the best players in the world there.”

Speaking to the media on Wednesday ahead of the PGA Tour’s Cognizant Classic, McIlroy was mostly magnanimous about Gooch’s observations, saying, “The Masters is an Invitational and they’ll invite whoever they think warrants an invite. I think to be fair to Talor … the question and then the answer, it’s not as if he just came out with that.

“I feel like whoever did the interview led him down that path to say that, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt there a little bit. He just agreed with what the interviewer asked.”

Maybe so, but like Gooch, McIlroy had a last word to slip in.

“At the same time,” he said, “Joaquin Niemann got an invite and I played with him a few weeks ago in Dubai, and he went down to Australia and won. He was in Oman last week. He has been chasing his tail around the world to get this, play his way into August or show enough form to warrant an invite. I don’t know if the same can be said for Talor.”

Indeed, Gooch played in six events that featured ranking points in 2023. His best finish was a T-12 in the Asian Tour’s Saudi International, and he missed the cut in both the PGA Championship and Open Championship.

In the press conference, McIlroy also was asked about comments to made by his former manager, Chubby Chandler, who contended that McIlroy could be “paving the way” for a path to LIV. Chandler gave it about a 10 percent chance.

“I think he’s writing a book, so there is that,” McIlroy said. “I spoke to Chubby, might have saw him in the Middle East at the start of the year. Never know. He might know a few things. Who knows.”

Of the 10-percent comment, McIlroy smiled and offered, “Somewhere in the middle maybe, who knows.”