PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has explained his decision to suspend PGA Tour pros who compete in the new Saudi-funded LIV Golf Series, using the 9/11 terrorist attacks to outline his opposition.
On Thursday afternoon, within minutes of the first shots being struck at Centurion Club in the inaugural LIV Golf event, Monahan sent a memo to all PGA Tour members informing them that those players playing on the new start-up circuit will be banned indefinitely from competing on the PGA Tour.
That announcement was dismissed as “vindictive” by a LIV Golf spokesperson, who added that it was “certainly not the last word on this topic”.
However, appearing on the final round broadcast of the Canadian Open, Monahan expanded on the tour’s position.
Asked why players couldn’t play on both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, he said: “I guess I would answer the question by asking a question: why do they need us so badly?
“Those players have chosen to sign multi-year lucrative contracts in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again.”
“”It’s not an issue for me because I don’t work for the Saudi Arabian government. It probably is an issue for those players that chose to take that money.
“I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not know there are significant implications. Two families close to me lost loved ones. I would ask any player who has left or any player who would ever consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?'”
Monahan’s stance will no doubt surprise – not to mention confuse – some people given that the tour has apparently had no issue with signing off on player release requests to play in the Saudi International.
As recently as February, one such player – Harold Varner III – won the tournament, now sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Monahan’s appearance on the broadcast was his first since the LIV Golf event – won by Charl Schwartzel – was completed. The contentious new circuit stages its second tournament at Pumpkin Ridge before the month is out, where the furore is likely to begin anew.
“It’s been an unfortunate week that was created by some unfortunate decisions,” added Monahan.
“But it’s my job to protect, defend and celebrate our loyal PGA Tour members, our partners and our fans, and that’s exactly what I did. I don’t think it was a surprise to anybody given how clear I had been about how we were going to handle the situation.”
The RBC Canadian Open was won by Rory McIlroy.