PGA Tour CEO Jay Monahan endured a busy and “historic day” speaking to players and reporters at Oakdale Golf and Country Club on Tuesday – but this could just be the beginning for him.
While speaking to the media at the RBC Canadian Open, Monahan described the players meeting he’d just emerged from as “heated” and “intense.”
PGA Tour player Wesley Bryan said he feels “betrayed” by the circuit’s alliance with the PIF and LIV Golf – with whom they were up against in legal proceedings until this week – and further reports suggest he’s not on his own.
In the past, Monahan had ruled out the prospect of players returning to the tour from LIV Golf and had spoken intimately about players “not having to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour” at last year’s event in Canada.
“As time went on, and you’ve heard me say a couple of times, circumstances change,” he said. “What changed? I looked at where we were at that point in time, and it was the right point in time to have a conversation.
“Going back to the origin of LIV, they needed to go down their path and we were going to go down ours.
“We’ve done everything we can within our control to improve and grow the PGA Tour, and they have launched LIV, they’ve proceeded with LIV, they’ve made progress with LIV.
“But ultimately it was looking at the broader picture and saying that I don’t think it’s right or sustainable to have this tension in our sport, and to be able to organise and orient this in a way where we’re in a control position, we have an investor, a great and world-class investor.
“And I recognise everything that I’ve said in the past and in my prior positions.
“I recognise that people are going to call me a hypocrite,” Monahan added. “Anytime I said anything, I said it with the information that I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that’s trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players.
“I accept those criticisms. But circumstances do change. I think that looking at the big picture and looking at it this way, that’s what got us to this point.”
Monahan reiterated more than once that the new entity is currently “a framework agreement” with many things still yet to be determined.
The pathway for players to regain their memberships, what the new team golf element will look like, and if LIV Golf players need to return a portion of their signing-on bonus were all things Monahan couldn’t offer definitive answers for at this time.
High-profile players such as Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, and Dustin Johnson all accepted lucrative contract offers to sign for LIV Golf in 2022.
Players such as Sam Burns, Cameron Young, and Hideki Matsuyama were rumoured to have turned down large figures to maintain their loyalty to the PGA Tour and its revamped elevated event schedule.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were also said to be offered large sums to join the rebel league – two players who’ve been vocal supporters of the PGA Tour but were kept out of the loop with this deal.
Monahan was asked about those who kept their PGA Tour memberships despite the attempts of LIV Golf and its CEO Greg Norman to strengthen its roster.
“It probably didn’t seem this way to them, but as I look to our players, those players that have been loyal to the PGA Tour, I’m confident that they’ve made the right decision,” he said. “They’ve helped rearchitect the future of the PGA Tour. They’ve moved us to a more pro-competitive model.
“Any player that has stayed is going to realise the money that they’re going to make, the strength of this platform, all the things that we talk about are going to put them in a really strong position.
“They’re going to win. They’re going to continue to grow, and we’re in a control position on their behalf as we move forward in this structure
“I get it, and I can’t specifically talk about what the impact is today. I can’t talk specifically about what it’s going to be in the future until we’ve completed the definitive agreement.
“When we get to that point in time, we will have gotten to that point in time because the case that we’ve made along that front is very clear.”
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