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Tom Watson

Tom Watson sends brutal open letter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan

Tom Watson has issued a lengthy and damning letter to the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan, expressing a number of questions and frustrations surrounding the tour's merger with the PIF
 

Eight-time major-winning legend Tom Watson has sent a damning letter to PGA Tour CEO Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour Policy Board.

In this letter, Watson sympathised with the claims of hypocrisy sent Monahan’s way as the tour performed a stunning U-turn to collaborate with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.

The 73-year-old asks what the PGA Tour gets from this relationship with the PIF and said it reveals a “more desperate financial situation than has been previously revealed by the tour.”

After sending his wishes to Monahan who is absent from tour duties in a medical situation, Watson hopes the many unanswered questions could become clearer at this week’s Travelers Championship.

“In the wake of recent news, I also understand the cries of hypocrisy. Because he is a smart man, I know Jay does too.

“In my opinion, the communication has been mishandled and the process by which the tour agreed on a proposed partnership with PIF was executed without due process. As a group of players and stakeholders who represent the face and the brands of the tour, what are our choices?

“While I wasn’t in the player meeting on Tuesday, June 6 (ironically on the anniversary of D-Day), for Jay’s PIF partnership/tour announcement, I’ve watched enough to know that it was certainly unlike any of the player meetings I’ve been involved with in my 50-plus years as a member of the Tour.

“The commissioner and the PGA Tour Board, on which five tour players sit, are going to have to do a lot of firsthand explaining to comfortably coax acceptance with our membership on this partnership with the PIF.

“The tour’s stakeholders: the players themselves, the broad span of global media, as well as the tournament sponsors and independent tour partners, require an explanation of the benefits of forming this partnership.

“There are many unanswered questions to date, which I hope will be addressed with the players by tour management at this week’s Travelers tour event. What does acceptance of this partnership mean to the tour? What do we get? What do we give up?

“Why was this deal done in such secrecy and why wasn’t even one of the players who sits on the tour’s Policy Board included?

“A matter this profound deserves thorough vetting by a representative group of stakeholders which include those, who in the end, define the public image and emotional connection with the PGA Tour.”

The PIF is set to become a premier corporate sponsor of the PGA Tour. All litigation proceedings have been dropped and this unnamed entity is set to allow a pathway for players to reapply for PGA and DP World Tour memberships.

The news was announced in the week of the RBC Canadian Open after a seven-week period of negotiations that included Monahan, PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and tour Policy Board members Jimmy Dunne and Ed Herhily.

The majority of the players, on both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf sides, found out the same time as the general public, while Rory McIlroy was told early on the morning of June 6, ironically the same date as D-Day as Watson points out in his letter.

Watson spoke of the hypocrisy of this U-turn in the context of the 9/11 attacks and the tour’s previous support of the 9/11 Families United Group in their joint opposition to the LIV Golf League.

Group chair Terry Strada described Monahan and the tour as paid “Saudi shills” in a recent statement and Watson also questioned the concept of financially rewarding those who stayed with the PGA Tour, when some remained loyal from a “position of moral conscience.”

“I wonder, does the PGA Tour have guidelines? Have we, as a body, defined an acceptable percentage of PIF funding in the proposed partnership?” Watson said.

“These questions are compounded by the hypocrisy in disregarding the moral issue; a position which for a long time was publicly highlighted by Tour leadership.

“While it is accepted that players on all levels would value the opportunity to make more money, it has also been illustrated that not all of our players are in search of money at all costs. Those who stayed true to the tour for whatever personal reason or position of moral conscience are more than a few outliers.

“There are widespread rumors on the tour offering financial reparations to these players who rejected offers from LIV and remained loyal to our tour.

“Surely, that alone misses the larger issue of context here? And in a related question, what if any, are the plans to reinstate tour players who defected and now want to return to the PGA Tour?

tom watson

“I still await Saudi acknowledgment of their role in the attacks of 9/11, which resulted in the loss of the innocent lives of 3000 of my fellow American citizens. I support 9/11 Families United and their efforts to release supporting exculpatory US Government documents.

“That day, forever among the darkest in our nation’s history, is sadly not alone among the human rights violations we have seen employed by Saudi Arabia. I ask the tour, how is a non-negotiable point for us one day one we negotiate around the next?

“The reversal does appear to indicate a more desperate financial situation than has been previously revealed by the tour. While last week I learned the significant news that litigation around the Tour/LIV conflict would be terminated with prejudice, that only solves one significant financial problem.

“It is important to understand how all of this has impacted the tour’s Reserve Fund and the tour’s overall financial solvency. Have funds been depleted to the point where the tour needs an unprecedented capital injection to remain solvent now or for the future?

“Policy Board independent director Jimmy Dunne, (who helped broker the deal), has said the PIF is not investing money into PGA Tour, Inc. but rather into a newly formed for-profit commercial entity under the banner, PGA Tour Enterprises.

“Will PIF funds be invested only in PGA Tour Enterprises, not PGA Tour, Inc? What does that mean? What present and/or new assets go into this new partnership? What assets will be sold?”

NOW READ: The Slam Podcast: Surely Rory McIlroy wins the 2023 Open Championship?

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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