What has PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in defense of the proposed merger with LIV Golf?
With the shocking news that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf will merge into a singular golf governing organization, the PGA’s commissioner had to defend the move.
If even you’re not a golf fan, it would have been almost impossible to avoid some form of news about the bitter battle that was waged between the PGA Tour and the fledgling golf league, LIV Golf, over the last year. From accusations of financing terrorism to the banning of golfers who jumped ship, to extensive litigation and then some, it seems the white flag has finally been waved.
PGA Tour’s Jay Monahan defends decision to merge with LIV Golf
On Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was on the defense as he gave comments about the monumental announcement that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf will be merging their respective commercial operations into “a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity.” To be clear, the merger which involves a massive financial injection from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) brings an immediate end to the ongoing legal battles between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. As one can imagine, the proposed move has not only sent shockwaves around the sporting world and beyond, but it’s also garnered accusations of hypocrisy and outright money grabbing, something Monahan for his part, openly addressed.
“If you just look at just the environment that we’re in, the PIF was controlling LIV, and we were competing against LIV,” Monahan said during a press conference on Tuesday. “I felt very good about the changes we’ve made and the position that we were in, but ultimately, to take the competitor off of the board - to have them exist as a partner, not an owner - and for us to be able to control the direction going forward put us in a position as the PGA Tour to do and serve our members, and at the same time, again, get to a productive position for the game at large.”
Jay Monahan accepts how things look to the public
Let’s have a quick recap: When LIV Golf launched in 2022, there was intense backlash not just from the PGA Tour and its affiliates, but the wider public - many of whom weren’t even golf fans - who accused the new league of attempting to “sportwash” the Kingdom’s image i.e., use sports as a propaganda tool to improve the country’s reputation in the midst of controversies related to human rights violations. To that end, The PGA Tour, under Monahan’s direction, began to ban any players found to be playing for LIV Golf. Further to that, the tour also began to offer larger purses in its events as a means to reduce the number of players jumping ship.
Monahan was quick to answer to the barrage of scrutiny, a result of the blatant U-turn that the tour has taken where LIV Golf is concerned. Stressing the long term benefits of such a move as valid justification for the new venture, Mohanan also pointed to the idea that there was an evolution in the amount of knowledge available “I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite,” Monahan said. “Anytime I’ve said anything, I’ve said it with the information I’ve had at the moment, and I’ve said it as someone who was trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players. I accept those criticisms, but circumstances do change. Looking at the big picture and looking at it this way, that’s what got us to this point.”
Better together? Jay Mohanan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan think so
While Monahan’s views we’re expected, it was interesting to note that he was also joined by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF. Monahan spoke of the idea of a united front, which he believed could ensure a promising future for the game of golf, before acknowledging the immense investment from the PIF, something that he stated would undoubtedly raise the sport to a higher level. “There has been a lot of tension in our sport over the past few years,” Monahan said. “What we are talking about today is coming together to unify the game of golf, and to do so under one umbrella. The way we are doing that is creating a for-profit LLC that PIF will invest in alongside the DP World Tour. Together, we are going to move forward and take efforts to grow and expand this great game, and take it to new heights. What has happened today is that we have recognized together, we can have a far greater impact on this game than we can working apart.”
Al-Rumayyan himself also added that the PIF is prepared to do “whatever it takes” to succeed within what he believes to be a $100 billion industry, though he did concede that had both parties met years ago, such a venture would not have been possible. “Had we met two or three years ago, the impact we would have had on the game of the golf would have been lesser ... It would be something small,” Al-Rumayyan said. “But the way we are doing our partnership, it is going to be really big in many senses.”