Why this top pro has a different perspective on LIV
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Memories of LIV are omnipresent at this year’s Players Championship. There are additional memories, like the extra $5 million in the tournament treasury. There are memories by subtraction, like defending champion (and relegated LIV defector) Cameron Smith who spent Thursday playing a short public course exactly 1.1 miles from TPC Sawgrass. As for the competitors? Everyone feels the change in their own way.
Keegan Bradley notices it every day. On a muggy afternoon before this week’s tournament, I sat down with my fellow New Englander for a Drop Zone podcast interview. During our conversation, I asked how his social life on tour has changed over the years — and if it’s lonelier. He laughed.
“Well that’s because some of my friends recently went to LIV,” he said. “Brendan Steele is one of my closest friends in the entire world. He was at my wedding, we play together every Tuesday, every dinner out, our families are friends – and then he’s gone overnight.”
Steele was part of the recent group of LIV signers and was announced just ahead of the burgeoning league’s season debut in Mayakoba. He plays on Phil Mickelson’s HyFlyers. And he is – like the rest of his LIV peers – indefinitely banned from PGA Tour play. Given that he’s ranked No. 120 in the world, Steele is unlikely to qualify for any upcoming majors either. Bradley’s circle has shrunk. For Bradley, the LIV effect is pretty simple: he misses his friends.
“The other guy I used to golf and hang out with is Cameron Tringale, and he’s gone,” Bradley said. “You’re on the same team! So it was certainly odd in that regard. Because suddenly, overnight, I look around and I’m one of the older guys out here. And the younger guys have their own crew and what they do – it’s been weird, especially since Steeley’s gone. Been really weird for the past month or so.”
I was curious if Bradley had seriously considered joining them. It would have been a prize for LIV recruiters, after all, with a major championship and several US team appearances under its belt. Had he been intrigued by the possibility of working with Mickelson again? He stopped.
“I have a very different perspective than many others,” he said. “I have no bad feelings for the guys who left [to LIV]. I’m happy for the guys that left and got a lot of money – I mean, that’s what we’re doing out here. For me I would like to win the players. I want to win Bay Hill, Memorial.”
LIV events are still not awarding ranking points, meaning players’ rankings have fallen sharply since their suspension from the PGA Tour. Bradley is currently 20th in the world and easily qualifies for all four, but he knows how quickly that could change. “The thought of not participating in these tournaments is brutal,” he said.
As for the LIV format? Consider Bradley intrigued.
“To be honest I think the setup, the way they’re doing it, with the teams and the way they’re all playing, is brilliant,” he said. “I loved the concept, I thought it was clever. But ultimately, playing the US Open at Brookline is really like I can’t miss this. That’s too big, that’s too important to me.”
One thing is clear: Bradley is not lacking in passion. It’s hard to overstate how eager he is to secure a spot on this year’s Ryder Cup team – he’s thinking about it “every second,” he said – and he’s looking for extra motivation wherever he can. Did you feel light? He was not invited to the exclusive Delaware players’ meet, nor to subsequent gatherings, as the top pros shaped the future of the tour.
He leaned into those perceived slights, he said with another laugh. Bradley plays well with a chip on his shoulder.
“I mean, growing up in New England, I always feel like I’m being overlooked,” he said. “I’m sure I’ve been processing that in my head a bit, but it really helped me, honestly. I would hear He was in this meeting? And it really motivated me in the off-season to work really hard. I lost tons of weight, changed my diet and wanted to come out and be one of the best players in the world.”
So far so good: Bradley won the Zozo Championship, his first win since 2018. He finished second at the Farmers Insurance Open. He’s third in the FedEx Cup, moving up from 47th in the world (this week in Delaware) to 20th.
That brought Bradley full circle: back to his love of the PGA Tour. He said he was “grateful” to have the fate of the tour in the hands of Rory McIlroy and other leading voices. He called them smart – good guys, great players. You have earned his trust. But Bradley likes meritocracy best.
“If you play well, you will be rewarded,” he said. “It’s not like you’re on a team and your coach isn’t playing against you. Your destiny is in your own hands. This week everyone who is on the field will have a chance – you have four days to win a tournament. If you play better than the other person, you will win. It’s all in my hands. And that’s what I love about the Tour.”
You can listen to the rest of the interview below:
https://golf.com/news/keegan-bradley-different-perspective-liv/ Why this top pro has a different perspective on LIV