Some PGA Tour players confronted commissioner Jay Monahan and called for his resignation during an afternoon meeting Tuesday at the RBC Canadian Open in Toronto.
PGA Tour winner Johnson Wagner told Golf Channel that there was plenty of anger in the room after Monahan came to a merger agreement with LIV Golf and the Saudi Public Investment Fund without consulting with the players.
“It was contentious,” Wagner said. “There were many moments where certain players were calling for new leadership of the PGA Tour and even got a couple standing ovations.
“I think the most powerful moment was when a player quoted Commissioner Monahan from the 3M (Open) in Minnesota last year when he said, ‘As long as I’m commissioner of the PGA Tour, no player that took LIV money will ever play the PGA Tour again.’ It just seems like a lot of backtracking.”
PGA Tour veteran and major champion Geoff Ogilvy of Australia told reporters the meeting was not informative, saying he got the sense that the tour rushed the announcement sooner than it wanted to make it.
“(Monahan) just sort of explained the structure, how it’s going to look going forward,” Ogilvy said. “Didn’t really talk specifics. It was a tough meeting for both sides, I think for Jay and all the players, because nobody really knows what this is going to look like in the end.”
Monahan, 53, is the fourth commissioner in PGA Tour history and has held the position since January 2017. Whether or not he resigns, he won’t hold that title for much longer.
With the Saudi Public Investment Fund making a capital investment in the new entity formed by the merger of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will be its chairman and Monahan is set to be the CEO.
“I don’t know that this is necessarily the correct term, but if it’s possible I gained even more respect for Jay because he was taking it from every single angle,” Wagner said. “Players were mad, players were calling for (his) resignation, and Jay sat there and took it like a champ, he really did. Now, he didn’t specifically answer a lot of questions of what the path would be like for LIV players coming in the season of ‘24. He kind of left it up to it’s his discretion … so a lot of players didn’t like that.”
Monahan, who appeared on CNBC with Al-Rumayyan for an interview Tuesday morning, held a call with select reporters after meeting with the players in Canada.
“I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite,” Monahan said. “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 in looking at the big picture and looking at it this way, that’s what got us to this point.”
The deal reportedly was negotiated over the course of the last seven weeks, and key players like Tiger Woods and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy — who stood by Monahan and the PGA Tour while sharply criticizing LIV Golf — were not let in on Monahan’s decision until the last minute.
“Obviously Tiger and Rory’s perspective is one that I understand very well, and it was part of my thinking throughout these conversations, and it will be a part of my thinking going forward,” Monahan said. “Now that we’re in a framework agreement, I look forward to talking to all of our players, including the two of them, to make certain that this comes off the right way.”
Monahan said the agreement is only a framework and that he hasn’t studied everything about the LIV Golf model.
Woods and McIlroy have yet to publicly comment. McIlroy, the defending champion of the Canadian Open, is scheduled to speak to the press Wednesday.
–Field Level Media
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