LIV Golf players can’t ‘ride for free’ off PGA Tour, says Jay Monahan

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Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, defended the decision to suspend players who defected from his circuit to play in the inaugural, stating that the PGA Tour would not allow LIV Golf Invitational Series participants to “deviate” from the structure. and the prestige of your organization. event of the company backed by Saudi Arabia.

Monahan was making an appearance Sunday on CBS’s broadcast of the final round of the Canadian Open, a day after the conclusion of LIV Golf’s debut near London. The 52-year-old commissioner emphasized the benefits, as he saw them, for PGA Tour players to stay and mentioned that those who have already signed with the wealthy rival might regret that decision.

“It’s been an unlucky week that was created by some unlucky decisions, those decisions were players choosing to violate our tournament rules,” Monahan told CBS’s Jim Nantz. “…It is my job to protect, defend and celebrate our loyal PGA Tour members, our partners and our fans, and that is exactly what I did.

“I don’t think it was a surprise to anyone, given how clear he had been about how we were going to handle this situation.”

Asked by Nantz why players couldn’t compete on both circuits, a stance challenged by LIV Golf Investments CEO Greg Norman, Monahan began his response with a question of his own: “Why do they need us so badly?”

“Because those players have chosen to sign lucrative multi-year contracts to play in a series of exhibition games against the same players over and over again,” Monahan continued. “Look at that, compared to what we see here today, and that’s why they need us so much.

“You have real, raw competition: the best players in the world here at the RBC Canadian Open, with millions of fans watching. And in this game, it is the true and pure competition that creates the profile and presence of the best players in the world. That’s why they need us. That’s what we do.

“But we are not going to allow players to take advantage of our loyal members, the best players in the world.”

As both events kicked off on Thursday, Monahan released a letter explaining that the suspensions, which LIV Golf denounced as “vengeful”, it was a matter of following the rules of the PGA Tour. The tour had denied releases last month for players who applied for an exemption to compete at the LIV Golf event in England. Several players who defected, including American star Dustin Johnson, subsequently relinquished their PGA Tour membership rather than face further sanctions.

As for whether players like Johnson and his LIV Golf teammate Phil Mickelson could one day return to the PGA Tour, the commissioner demurred Sunday. His tour could face legal challenges to his suspensions.

“We’ll see how things continue to develop,” he told Nantz, “as we go down the road here.”

The PGA Tour had allowed several of its members to play at the Saudi International in February. Asked to explain why that was acceptable but involvement with LIV Golf is not, Monahan pointed to the fact that the February competition was “a unique event recognized by a sanctioned tour,” in that case the Asian tour.

“This series is a group of events, predominantly based in North America,” Monahan said of LIV Golf, which is being funded by the Saudi Public Investment Fund and guarantees massive payouts to participating players.

“Why is this group spending so much money, billions of dollars, recruiting players and chasing a concept, with no chance of return?” Monahan said during the interview. “At the same time, there have been a lot of questions, a lot of comments about the ‘growth of the game.’ And I ask: How is this good for the game we love?

Monahan also posed a rhetorical question to players who had gone to LIV Golf or were considering it: “Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?”

Some critics of the Saudi-backed company have said it represents a “sports laundering” effort by a repressive regime eager to use golf to generate goodwill and deflect the subject from allegations of human rights abuses. Norman caused a furore last month when he downplayed the 2018 murder of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi by telling a London audience: “Look, we’ve all made mistakes.” At a press conference ahead of the LIV Golf event, Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell called Khashoggi’s killing “reprehensible” but noted professional golfers “are not politicians.”

As Monahan spoke on CBS, Rory McIlroy was sitting atop a star-studded Canadian Open leaderboard en route to a crowd-pleasing victory in Toronto.

McIlroy, also from Northern Ireland, has become one of the sharpest critics among the Saudi company’s PGA Tour players and its participants. In February, McIlroy criticized Mickelson and, since the best players on the circuit seemed to have closed ranks behind that circuit, he declared that LIV Golf was “dead in the water”.

Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner, won the first LIV Golf event on Saturday and won $4.75 million plus an undisclosed amount for joining the tour.

“Where the money comes from is not something… I’ve ever looked at, playing in my 20-year career,” the 37-year-old South African said afterwards. “I think if I start researching everywhere we play, I could find fault with anything.”

The next step in the series is its first stop in the United States, a tournament in Portland, Oregon, which begins in late June. In total, five of the eight LIV Golf events scheduled for this year will be in the United States, including a couple that will take place on courses owned by Donald Trump.

LIV Golf’s field is expected to be augmented by former Grand Slam champions Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed. The tournament will be held at the same time as the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic in Silvis, Illinois. Plus established names It could also be on their way to LIV Golf, which would give it more credibility and could ultimately lead to a crucial change if its events become eligible for the Official World Golf Ranking.

LIV Golf players are sacrificing the opportunity to move up or stay stable in the world rankings, which could affect their ability to qualify for the majors.

Monahan, who is a member of the OWGR’s eight-person board of directors, said Sunday of that situation: “Those ranking points are a critical element of why the best players in the world are here, in this pure and true competition against the depth of field we have.”

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