By Leigh MacKay

Brendan Steele is flying high in his golf career right now, and he gives much of the credit to the LIV Tour, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, the HyFlyers and his family. He is at Trump Doral this week for the LIV Golf Miami event and is celebrating his 41st birthday on Friday, April 5. And he has much to celebrate!

Born in the San Jacinto Mountains of a small southern California town named Idyllwild, Brendan played high school golf and then college golf at the University of California, Riverside, graduating in 2005 and turning pro. Within five years, he earned his way up through the pro ranks, from the Golden State Tour to the Canadian Tour to the Nationwide Tour and then to the PGA Tour in 2011.

In the next 10 years, he won three times, attained his highest ranking of 35 in 2018, and amassed $20,223,613 in official money.

In February of 2023, Brendan joined LIV as a member of Phil Mickelson’s HyFlyers, played in 14 events, and ended 19th of 48 in the final point standings with three top 10’s and nine top 24’s. Including four events in 2024, Steele has played in 18 tournaments and has won $6,675,197.

This birthday celebration is really icing on the cake as Steele has never been happier than he is now in his professional and personal life.

Brendan is talking to HyFlyers’ teammate Andy Ogletree
on the 10th tee during the practice round on Wednesday. 

Steele is one of the bona fide good guys in golf. I have known him for about 10 years, ever since I first covered Keegan Bradley’s annual Charity Golf Classic at the Woodstock Inn and Resort CC in that delightful Vermont town. Keegan was Brendan’s best friend on Tour, spending much of their time together, so it was only natural that Brendan would help Keegan in the charity endeavor. Their efforts provided more than $1M to assist the town of Woodstock and to benefit cancer research for Vermont children.

I hadn’t seen Brendan for several years, but he couldn’t have been more gracious when I asked
him for an interview. He made time for me during a pre-tournament day at LIV Golf Miami,
and I was able to catch up with him and his new lifestyle.

BS: Financially, obviously, LIV is a great opportunity for me. And having Phil come to me to ask me to join his team just seemed to happen for me at the right time. The schedule with less events was appealing, too. The individual and team format and the no-cut aspect are really nice for a player. I was a little worried about my decision when I first came to LIV, but all my major concerns were set aside once I joined the HyFlyers.

BS: Yes, in fact, Keegan was the first one I talked to about it. He was with me every step of the way and was most supportive. He said, “Selfishly, I don’t want you to go, but you need to do this.” Not seeing Keegan is the only thing I miss. We did everything together from practice rounds to dinners to sharing houses. Our families are close. I was in his wedding. Now, we really have to work hard to find time together. And on this past Tuesday night we were all able to get together for dinner here in southern Florida, which was just wonderful.

BS: When we had talked about the possibility in the months leading up, he wasn’t sure if it was going to be the right thing for me. And then when Phil personally reached out to me, he told me to go for it. Even so, he was a little concerned when I left, but when I told him how smoothly everything was going, he’s been very happy and comfortable with the transition. He’s all in now!

BS: Yes, I enjoy three rounds. My joke is that I no longer want to play two or four rounds, meaning I have missed the cut or I am not in an LIV event. Wearing shorts is great. Fourteen is just about the right number for me. Shotguns are fine, too, and easy to adjust to. Every little detail has been pleasant, including allowing our coaches and caddies to go everywhere with us—to the locker room and to the dining room—which makes the day a nice experience for us all.

BS: As I said, Phil has been a mentor and friend for years, and Cameron has been a very close friend the entire time we played on the PGA Tour together. He joined the HyFlyers several months before I did, so with Phil and Cameron, I had the perfect fit on the team. This year Andy Ogletree has made the fourth man, and he is a fantastic player and person. We have a lot of fun together, and we are collaborative. So you’ll see us out there playing practice rounds together, working together, and spending a lot of time together. The team concept works for the HyFlyers.

BS: Obviously, wherever you are playing, you want to win. I wanted to win on the PGA Tour, and I won three times, so that’s an achievement I am proud of. With LIV, I want to win individually, of course, and that is my personal goal. However, a team win might even mean more than an individual win because we have all worked so hard together but haven’t yet had the results that we have wanted. We know we can do it, and we had chances last year, and we are ready to take that step forward this year. Phil’s game is ageless, and he has been playing well. Andy is looking sharp, and you’ll see a ton of form out of him. Cameron is super solid without any weaknesses in his game. Yes, we all want to get that first team win.

BS: I would like to see LIV get some sort of ranking points recognition because we have so many excellent players, and I want this tour to be as successful as possible. For me personally, I have fallen down so far, and I knew the risks from the start, that I have accepted my lack of points. But I don’t think the Official World Ranking Points will work for us anymore. I would like the governing bodies to go to another system like Data Golf, or Sports Illustrated has one, I believe, and I think there is a TUGR Pro golf ranking that includes everyone. I think anyone who knows golf knows that Cameron Smith, Dustin Johnson, and Brooks Koepka for example, are world-class players, who could be #1 in the world, and are much better than their current rankings. There is a lot of top-tier talent out here, and it is tough for me to see their numbers drop unrealistically.

BS: So much is still unknown about what’s going on here. I trust our leadership and what we are doing to make the best decisions for us. I think there will be something that comes out of it in the future, but I don’t know what that collaboration may look like. Everything we have been told on this side is that LIV goes forward no matter what. We’re focused on that, and if we do get something accomplished with the PGA Tour, that will be beneficial, too.

The picture of Brendan and Keegan was taken at
Keegan’s charity event. (Photo courtesy of Keegan’s website.)

BS: Riviera in Los Angeles has always been my favorite course on the PGA Tour, and I am a southern California boy at heart. I really enjoyed the US Open at Shinnecock on Long Island, NY.

BS: Going to Australia for LIV Golf Adelaide is the cream of the crop! The support that we get there not only from the fans but also from the city is incredible. When you get there, everything is LIV—the banners on the streets and on the buses with the team names and the players’ faces everywhere. I have thoroughly enjoyed three French Opens at Le Golf National, the Ryder Cup course near Versailles, one of my favorite golf courses ever. And we were in Hong Kong a couple weeks ago at the Hong Kong Golf Club. The course was really cool, and the city just blew me away. The people, the food, the atmosphere were just awesome.

BS: Yes, she does. We have a six-year old-daughter Victoria, and we call her Tori. Whenever she has a school vacation, like right now she is on Spring Break, Anastassia will fly her to the tournament. And the two of them will join me all summer for LIV venues. They will join me in Houston and Nashville and Greenbrier, and we will all be in Europe for at least three weeks. So, the two of them get out quite a bit and really have a good time. I am always pleased to have them with me at an event.

BS: Good question. I don’t have so much to say about me as I have about some ideas. I understand that there is resistance to LIV from people who have always liked the PGA Tour, but I really don’t think there should be a “one or the other” mentality. Both tours can and should work together and co-exist. If you like golf, give it a try and check it out. It doesn’t mean that you have to choose a side. If you like good golf and you like fun, come see the PGA Tour and come see LIV Golf. There doesn’t need to be the dissension there has been. So, my suggestion is, don’t pick a side, pick tournaments at both, and enjoy the game the professionals provide.

Photographs by Vicky MacKay

Leigh MacKay

As a caddie, greenkeeper, and Ouimet Scholar from Marshfield Country Club on Boston’s South Shore, Leigh developed his love for the game at an early age. The BA from Amherst College and MA from Dartmouth prepared him for his 36-year career in education, most of it teaching Advanced Placement English and coaching varsity golf. In 1986, a sabbatical from teaching students to writing stories for “Golf World” magazine prepared him for his second career in golf journalism. Leigh is a low-handicap golfer who has won the Golf Writers Association of America’s championship seven times. He is currently a member of Southers Marsh Golf Club in Plymouth, MA, and PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, FL.

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