‘The sails are going to break on that ship:’ Lee Trevino opens up on LIV
Lee Trevino says he’s not shocked players are leaving the PGA Tour to ply their trade for LIV Golf.
And he also wouldn’t be surprised if the controversial, Saudi-backed series fails.
“To tell you the truth, I haven’t given it much thought because I don’t think it’ll last,” he said on the New Breed of Golf with Michael Breed show on SiriusXM. “I really don’t. I don’t think it’ll last.”
Walk the length of a chip shot, and you’ll find someone with a LIV thought. Or someone who will ask for yours. But few can give it to you straighter than Trevino, who opined on nearly everything LIV over just two questions on Friday.
“Lee, you see what’s happening in the world of golf and in particular the PGA Tour,” began Breed, also a longtime instructor. “You were, in my opinion, probably one of six to 10 people that were essential for the PGA Tour and the success that it enjoyed and what it ultimately led to now. You see what has taken place over the last little bit with Henrik Stenson walking away from a Ryder Cup captaincy so that he can go play LIV. You see other players that are making the jump — Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka. As an individual that is, in part, responsible for the success of the PGA Tour, I’m curious how this LIV thing lives inside of you.
“What’s your reaction to what is taking place in professional golf?”
In order, Trevino’s answer included his spin on why pros would consider leaving the Tour for LIV; the ages of players in the series; whether LIV would succeed; what the Tour should do; and the reported signing bonuses being offered.
“Well, it’s not surprising, I mean, as much money as they’re paying them,” Trevino began on the show. “These players are looking after their families. They’re getting a tremendous amount of money just to jump over.
“None of them are young. The youngest one, I guess, is Bryson [DeChambeau]. I’m not sure; in other words, a star.
“I haven’t paid too much attention to it. I knew that it was coming. You can’t control that. There’s no possible way you control it. You know what we do? We just sail our ship the way we are sailing our ship and eventually the sails, I think, are going to break on that ship. …
“I mean, they paid a billion dollars for talent. I mean, come on. I was trying to figure it out in my head the other day. They probably paid a billion dollars for talent, right. I mean, that’s what they did. What did they pay Mickelson? I just heard numbers.”
“200 is what I heard,” Breed said.
“I mean, he’s 52 years old. Does he have to play until he’s 90 or what? I don’t know. That’s a lot of money. And you can set your whole family up with that.”
That’s about 200 words, and five takes. But maybe most notable is that while Trevino covered a chunk of the subject’s talking points, he also was relatively unmoved at LIV as a threat and that the status quo from the PGA Tour could win the day. You’re not hearing that as often as you did earlier this year — don’t forget Rory McIlroy’s thought in late February that LIV was “dead in the water,” which he recently backtracked on — and the Tour has adjusted over the past half-year, notably bumping up purses, adjusting its schedule and strengthening its alliance with the DP World Tour, the formerly named European Tour.
Breed then asked the six-time major winner about LIV’s format, which includes 54 holes, a shotgun start, team play and eight events. (They will play 14 next year.)
“Lee, let me just ask you real quickly: When you look at an event that’s 54 holes, it’s a shotgun start, it’s guaranteed money, there’s no cut — I mean, Ernie Els came out this week and said this is not what I consider to be championship golf,” Breed started. “I’m curious, when you see that, do you view that as championship golf? Do you think that that is just sort of a circus experience?”
Here, Trevino talked about the in-person viewing experience; repeated his belief that LIV wouldn’t work; and offered a concern.
“Well, I don’t know about a circus experience, but I think it’s a different thing entirely,” Trevino said. “I mean, there’s no possible way that we could do that simply because of our galleries, our sponsors. I mean, we’re not going to go to that over here. I mean, how do you get the gallery out? I mean, if a guy wants to watch somebody, he’s got to be there at a certain time because everybody tees off at the same time. And he might not do that. I mean, there’s people that work and say I want to go out at 2 o’clock and follow my guy the last nine holes. I mean, you can do that on our tour. You can go out at 7 o’clock in the morning and watch someone and then go to work at 1 o’clock. Going shotgun with 54 players or whatever they have and the shotgun start, I don’t know how it’s going to work. I have no clue how it’s going to work.
“To tell you the truth, I haven’t given it much thought because I don’t think it’ll last. I really don’t. I don’t think it’ll last. I think that, you know, eventually they’ll see to where — I mean, it takes a lot of organization to run this tour. I mean, this thing just didn’t all of a sudden just jump, pop out. We’ve been doing this for 54 years, you know, once we got away from the PGA. So yeah, it’s not easy. It’s not easy. But I don’t think it’s going to go anyplace.
“I just hope it doesn’t damage our sponsorships. That’s when it actually starts getting serious is if the sponsors start quitting and doing this and doing that.”
And that’s about 300 three words and three takes. The hottest, of course, is that LIV won’t last, and if you’re a PGA Tour fan, you should feel encouraged. Though, if things get messy Trevino’s sponsorship thought should be worrisome.
We’ll all learn some more in a week.
LIV plays its third event starting Friday.