Monahan Continues To Tread On Thin Ice As Calls Mount For Him To Go.

In reading the transcripts from the opening round of pre-Players Championship interviews I don’t think there has even been so many controversial topics put to a PGA Tour Commissioner in all prior 49 years of the flagship tournament.

In the usual ‘State of the Tour’ address Commissioner Jay Monahan was asked 31 questions and with the transcript boasting 1,670 words.

Monahan faced questions ranging from what would he have done differently the past three years, whether there is a path back to the PGA Tour for those players who joined LIV, the current situation with regards to the anticipated merger with the Saudi-backed PIF, his reaction to Jon Rahm’s ‘lost faith’ comments, does he share Rory McIlroy’s vision of a world tour and one of the more personal questions of the whole conference and that is whether of not Monahan had been called upon by the Tour’s board of directors to resign.

Monahan conveniently side-stepped directly answering that question and also so much like so many other questions he faced and instead, promoting this week’s 50th anniversary of the Players.

The simple definition of a leader is someone who leads or commands a group or organization.

Monahan stepped into the role as the fourth PGA Tour Commissioner in January, 2017 after first getting into golf administration working for IMG and helping set-up the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.  In early January 2008 he was appointed as executive director of the Players Championship.

Things were good for Monahan until February 2022, when he received a letter from the LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman. The letter detailed how players “were and still are interested in playing for a new league, in addition to the PGA Tour.”

Norman stated that he wanted the leagues to co-exist, to which Monahan responded that he “doesn’t want that at all.”

LIV Golf went ahead regardless however the more the growing controversy of a rival tour the less we heard from the head of the PGA Tour and, if anything, it was Rory McIlroy taking all the questions and doing all the talking for the Tour.  Monahan was becoming more noticeable with his absence than his presence.   This was not the way for a leader to act.

Then there was the ‘bombshell’ news at a hastily-arranged players meeting on Tuesday, 6th June at the RBC Canadian Open. It was news that rocked not just men’s pro golf but the sports world as a whole that Saudi Arabia was going to fund a multibillion‑dollar investment in which the LIV Golf Series will merge with the PGA and DP World Tours.

Monahan allowed this news to break without the common courtesy of advising the members, including McIlroy who, after so many months being the unofficial Tour mouthpiece, was left speechless.

Despite never hearing from Monahan he had previously been fiercely resistant to all things LIV. In emphasising the remarkable scene, he sat alongside Yasil-Al Rumayyan in a US television studio as the agreement was set out. “There’s been a lot of tension in our sport over the last couple of years,” Monahan said. “But what we’re talking about today is coming together to unify the game of golf. And to do so under one umbrella.”

Monahan also admitted: “I recognise that people are going to call me a hypocrite”.

We had been promised full details of the merge by the end of 2023 but December 31st came and went, and it was put back to April, 2024 and that’s now 17 days away and we’re still no closer to knowing anything about any merger plans.

Monahan did confirm that in January he travelled to Saudi Arabia to meet with the governor of the PIF, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, about coming to a “deal’’ with it to, in essence, merge the PGA Tour and LIV to bring the game’s best players back on the same playing field.

Tuesday’s presser within the walls of the TPC Sawgrass media centre marked just the third time Monahan has spoken to the media since he made that stunning announcement two days ahead of the Canadian Open that the Tour had reached a “framework agreement’ with the DP World Tour and the PIF, without informing any of his PGA Tour players.

Monahan just looked uncomfortable addressing anything that had to do with PIF and LIV Golf, and so often deflected talk about this week’s 50th anniversary Players Championship.

Little wonder there are increasing calls for Monahan to go and with Olympic Gold Medal winning Xander Schaffler now seriously questioning Monahan’s respect among the rank-and-file members.  Schaffler was still getting comfortable in his chair when he was point-blankly asked if he had faith in the Commissioner

“Trust is something that’s pretty tender, so words are words, and I would say in my book he’s got a long way to go,” said Schaffler.  “He could be the guy, but in my book, he’s got a long way to go to gain the trust of the membership. I’m sure he’s got the support of the board, since they were with him making some of those decisions, but for me personally he’s got quite a ways to go”.

Billy Horschell said:  “Unfortunately, I don’t think he has the full support of the entire membership but I would … I am hopeful the majority of the PGA Tour membership support him.  Gosh, I want to say I can fully see that the majority agree with it but then I don’t speak to every member of the PGA Tour”.

Former US Open champ Matt Fitzpatrick remarked: “Is he the right man to be doing this deal? I don’t know. Probably, not on paper.  I think now he is probably been in the mix of all of what’s been happening, and knows everything that has been going on, so that it would be hard for someone new to come in and kind of get up-to-speed quickly.  There is obviously that thought in your mind if someone could grasp that quickly but in your mind could someone come in and do that so quickly.  I don’t know, so is he the right person?  Probably not on paper.”


Comments are closed.