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Phil Mickelson Has Sullied The Storied History Of HyFlyers GC

AL MUROOJ, SAUDI ARABIA - JANUARY 31: Phil Mickelson of USA talks to the media during a practice round prior to the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on January 31, 2023 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia.
Luke Walker/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty Images

It’s a dark day for golf. This is a game that usually has respect for tradition. Earlier this month professional golfers threw a fit when St. Andrews renovated the approach to Swilcan Bridge. Fans and media, too, were rightly outraged when the 700-year-old landmark suddenly looked fit for Wayfair.

Almost as distinguished as the Old Course are the famed teams of LIV Golf. Bubba Watson cited his son’s familiarity* with them as one of the primary reasons he joined that tour: “He knew the Aces, he knew the Stingers.” He singled out one team as particularly deserving of respect: “Everybody knows the Aces, they keep winning.”

If there’s one team rivals the Aces as an institution, it’s HyFlyers Golf Club. And now team captain Phil Mickelson has taken that year-old tradition and thrown it right in the toilet. Yesterday the team announced a shakeup in its 2023 roster. Out were Bernd Wiesberger and Matthew Wolff. In came Brendan Steele and James Piot.

Look, I get it. Piot starred at Michigan State. He won the 2021 U.S. Amateur. As a longtime admirer of the HyFlyers, I am thrilled to learn the team has added such an emerging talent. But the HyFlyers? Starting a rookie? I do not expect a franchise with such cachet, or a captain as driven to win as Mickelson, to commit to a rebuilding year. Steele is a curious choice, too; the HyFlyers have, throughout their history, valued a player's game over his name or fame. It's practically the team's motto. So it's hard to know what to make of them pursuing the guy whose uncle played Luke on General Hospital. They’ll get the attention of the casuals, sure. But can he golf? Are the HyFlyers–I cannot believe I am writing this—tanking???

Phil Mickelson has had his missteps before. But I never thought he was the type of person to just toss out Wiesberger and Wolf, competitors who really embodied the HyFlyers ethos. Thank goodness the team is bringing back Cameron Tringale for another year. If it had done a full makeover, I might’ve needed to change my fan affiliation to RangeGoats CG, Iron Heads GC, or even the Crushers. As a longtime HyGuy, I cannot believe I am saying this about our rivals: Aces GC had a much better offseason. I can’t abide this. I need to shower.

“The HyFlyers aren’t content with reaching the summit,” the team website reads. “No, that’s just an invitation, an opportunity to rise to new heights. The mantra of this team is that there’s always another level.” Fine words, to be sure, but obviously ones that mean nothing to you, Phil Mickelson. There is no way the team is going to reach another level starting some college kid and a soap opera actor’s nephew.

I can only hope for change. The uproar over the renovations at St. Andrews led to a swift removal of the new stone patio. This can be undone. Someone must take action. I’m at least heartened that LIV is a family-run operation. My hunch is that they won’t stand for this kind of thing.

Correction (11:01 a.m. ET): The initial version of this post accidentally said Brooks Koepka was the golfer whose son knew and cared about the Aces. It was actually Bubba Watson. This was a pretty stupid mistake, since Watson was in the headline of Chris Thompson’s original post about the incident. In my defense, I was still on tilt from the news of the HyFlyers shakeup. Nonetheless, I should have cooled off before blogging. I will do better next time.

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