Sunday, December 04, 2022

Column: Monahan just underestimated players’ loyalty

Column: Monahan just underestimated players' loyalty

On various occasions of discontent in the golf summerTiger Woods and Rory McIlroy deliver important messages that show what PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan did wrong.

McIlroy was asked at the US Open If he had lost respect for players in their prime years, taking guaranteed cash from Saudi-funded LIV Golf, its 54-hole event and 48-man field, no cuts and not much of an audience.

“I don’t understand people who are the same age as me because I believe my best days are still ahead of me, and I think theirs are too,” McIlroy said. “So that’s where it looks like you’re taking the easy way out.”

A month later at the British Open, Woods left no doubt about where he stood On players who had joined a rival league run by Greg Norman.

“I disagree with that,” Woods said. “I think what he has done is that he has turned his back on being allowed to hold this position.”

Monahan did not underestimate the danger or damage caused by Saudi money On a tour that hasn’t been challenged for 50 years. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have bothered with an 898-word memo in January 2020 warning players they must choose one league or the other, considering changes to the PGA Tour’s rules if necessary.

He underestimated the loyalty of his players.

Many people are willing to take the easy way out.

Many people are turning their backs on the tour that made them worth watching, all because of the financial offers that turned their heads.

That’s all Dean Beaman said in an interview with Golfweek magazine. He was commissioner from 1974 to 1994 and was largely responsible for the model that led to the PGA Tour becoming the ultimate destination in golf.

“You don’t build loyalty and appreciation into a model built for touring like us,” Beaman said. “It’s up to the individual’s integrity and appreciation of what’s been done for them.”

A clever play on words Monahan leans on the phrase “legacy, not leverage” after Phil Mickelson was exposed in a series of published comments His main interest in the Saudi-backed league in February was to take advantage of changes to the PGA Tour. They realized that were long overdue.

But it’s not even about inheritance. It is not about history.

And it’s not about the hassle of playing less for more. And why 10 players — Carlos Ortiz has asked that his name be dropped from the lawsuit, according to his manager — take the money and run to file an antitrust lawsuit in federal court in California. Against the PGA Tour?

Nothing motivates like money, and golf was not immune. Players who say they were attracted to the team concept of LIV Golf either never played in the Ryder Cup or realized they played last.

The players made the choice and should be respected. And they were, until the inevitable lawsuit filed last week, which demands the right to eat the fruit from every tree in the garden.

Norman finally talks about bringing free agency to golf, leaving out the part about players signing contracts with LIV Golf that require them to play certain events.

The Saudi threat under any name was real and there wasn’t much Monahan could do to stop it, with Norman’s disposal not having so much money from public investment funds.

Imagine if Monahan had heard and struck a deal years earlier, before Norman got involved and turned it into vengeance. Wouldn’t the PGA Tour have risked the wrath of a large segment of its fan base that now criticizes every player for taking Saudi money controlled by an oppressive regime with a disgraceful record on human rights?

Monahan should no longer be surprised by someone who pledges support one week and leaves the next.

The same happened with Brooks Koepka in June. He was at the Rolex ceremony on Monday of the US Open, rallying soldiers for the PGA Tour to speak loud and clear. Then he had an offer he couldn’t ignore and left after a week,

It was the same with Bryson DeChambeau when he wrote in February“I want to make it clear that as long as the best players in the world are playing on the PGA Tour, I will do the same.” It would be interesting to know his definition of “best” as there is only one player in the top 20 in the world rankings in LIV golf – Dustin Johnson.

The PGA Tour’s post season begins this week, but not before a federal judge decides whether to allow the three defectors to compete In the FedEx Cup playoffs. The fall portion of the new season will include two events in California — a tournament in Napa, the other a preliminary case management conference for antitrust lawsuits.

Beaman was asked by Golfweek if he could see anything positive coming from this disruption.

“Not that I see,” he said. “Maybe destroying the integrity of some individuals. His real stripes are showing. Some people who have benefited immensely from this visit are fully revealing their integrity.”

More players are likely to follow after the FedEx Cup. Rumors are flying around, and they also cannot be trusted. Words have never been more hollow.

Monahan must have learned by now that a game built on honesty only applies inside the ropes.


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