Golfers say PGA Tour commish Jay Monahan needs to regain trust

Associated PressJul 12, 2023, 01:14 PM ET5 minutes of reading

Spieth, Schauffele say Monahan needs to earn back trust

Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele are among PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s return to work next week.

GULLANE, Scotland — PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan returns to work next week, and some top players believe he needs to regain their trust after leaving members in the dark over a off-face agreement with Saudi Arabia’s wealth fund behind LIV Golf.

“I would say he has a lot of tough questions to answer in his comeback,” Xander Schauffele said Wednesday at the Scottish Open, where he is the defending champion. “And yes, I don’t trust people easily. He had my trust and he has a lot less of it now.

“So I’m not alone when I say that.”

A week after Monahan announced a commercial partnership with the public investment fund, the ride said a “medical situation” prompted Monahan to turn day-to-day operations of the ride over to two managers.

He sent a memo to players last week saying he would resume his role on July 17. Monahan did not attend the Senate hearing Tuesday, where the documents outlined some of the conversations that led to the framework agreement.

The players were sent a 275-page file of the documents obtained by Congress ahead of the three-hour hearing. While some watched part of it or read through a few excerpts of the documents, Jordan Spieth chose to play golf at North Berwick instead.

Spieth was also asked if Monahan would have trust issues with the players.

“Quite a bit, just based on conversations I’ve had with players. And I think he realizes that,” Spieth said. “I’m sure he’s preparing a plan to try and rebuild it.”

Scottie Scheffler said he watched part of the hearing and didn’t learn much. Then again, the world No. 1 isn’t sure how much he knew in the first place.

Monahan and two board members — Jimmy Dunne and board chairman Ed Herlihy — negotiated the deal announced June 6 with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

“As a tour player, we still don’t have a lot of clarity on what’s going on, and that’s a little concerning,” Scheffler said. “They keep saying it’s a player-driven organization and we don’t really have the information we need. I watched some of it yesterday, didn’t learn anything.”

Rory McIlroy chose not to say anything.

McIlroy had been seen as the strongest voice in the PGA Tour’s battle against Saudi-funded LIV Golf. He said he felt like a “sacrificial lamb” when he spoke to the media a day after the deal was announced, during the Canadian Open.

McIlroy gave two television interviews ahead of the Scottish Open, which starts on Thursday at The Renaissance Club. And then he walked past a dozen journalists. When asked if he had time to speak, his manager intervened and said McIlroy would not speak about the hearing.

McIlroy’s name appeared in a Dec. 8 email to Dunne from Roger Devlin, a British businessman involved on the PIF side to help repair golf’s broken state. Devlin said he arranged for McIlroy to meet with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, last November in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Devlin described the meeting as “very cordial and constructive.”

“Rory made it clear that in agreeing to the meeting he was speaking only for himself, although he believes his views are largely shared by Tiger [Woods] and the other top players,” Devlin wrote. “He also emphasized that he was not seeking any personal financial gain, he was simply trying to unify the game.”

McIlroy briefly mentioned the meeting after the first round of the Canadian Open when he said he had met Al-Rumayyan.

“I played a pro-am with Yasir in Dubai a couple of years ago,” McIlroy said last month. “I was with him at a random Formula 1 race a couple of years ago in Austin. I saw him in Dubai at the end of last year. So he’s obviously been in and around the golf world and obviously the wider sporting world… He runs in the same circles as a lot of people I know.”

Schauffele said he looked through some of the documents and started seeing a link to the hearing until he decided sleep was more important.

He referred to this as “one of the rockier times” on the PGA Tour, but said it would be less disturbing if the players stick together. But his biggest beef was more transparency and players being more involved.

“There’s not a lot of communication right now and things are a bit unsettling and there’s a bit of a divide between the management and the players, if you want to call it that,” he said. “And my hope is that one positive thing that comes from that will be more communication, more transparency and some kind of understanding of what direction the tour is going to go with us as kind of ambassadors for it.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Open is about to start and the Open Championship is next week, the last major of the year, with the FedEx Cup playoffs a month later.

“I just try to keep my head down and play golf,” Scheffler said. “I don’t get involved in a lot of that stuff. I love playing golf on the PGA Tour and that’s the place for me. I hope it’s going to be around for a long time. I felt like we did it. piece of work before and then the deal happened, and now we have to navigate the whole deal.”

He said, while appreciating the private nature of the negotiations, “I just want our player representatives to be more involved in the process.”

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