Last week Phil Mickelson addressed the ongoing battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, saying “the best solution is for us to come together.”
After PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan’s recent interview with ESPN, Lefty better not hold his breath. Monahan addressed everything from the Presidents Cup to Tiger Woods’ leadership amid the Tour’s struggles against the upstart circuit led by Greg Norman and backed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Most importantly, he flat-out said LIV Golf and the PGA Tour cannot work together or coexist.
“I think it’s impractical when you look at the fact that certain players have sued the PGA Tour, their employer has sued the PGA Tour,” said Monahan. “It’s not in the cards. It hasn’t been in the cards and it’s not in the cards. I think we’ve been pretty consistent on that front.”
Monahan was then asked point-blank: Why will the PGA Tour outlast LIV Golf?
“Because the game, at the highest level, is about aspiration. It’s about context. And any young kid today, any kid that’s going to be playing the game going forward, ultimately is going to want to win the biggest championships, the biggest tournaments, and put themselves in a position and on a path over the course of their golf journey to get to the PGA Tour and to again, achieve at the highest level. We are going to continue to evolve and get stronger in every single area of that spectrum or of that journey.
And the game itself will continue to evolve from an entertainment standpoint, but it isn’t going to be solely about entertainment. It’s going to be about how do I achieve what Tiger Woods has achieved, or Jordan Spieth or Jon Rahm or Collin Morikawa or Patrick Cantlay or Xander Schauffele?”
As for the future of men’s golf, Monahan said the Tour would “lean into” the changes its made to its schedule and elevated events in order to keep providing players “not only the strongest competitive platform, but also the strongest brand platform.” That two-pronged platform pitch is how Monahan has been keeping the top players from the leaving the Tour in search of greener pastures.
“I focus on where we are and where we’re going. And I focus on two things: What your possibility is from an income standpoint on the PGA Tour, [and] from a competitive standpoint on the PGA Tour, because ultimately what I tell someone depends on what their purpose is. What do you want to accomplish?” said Monahan, who also preached the power of a player’s independence on Tour from where they play to which brands they partner with. “To me, if you want to achieve at the highest level of the game and you want to win the biggest championships in the game, then we have an incredible story to tell on that front.”
According to Monahan, the changes the Tour has made to its schedule will also have a positive impact on the fan experience seeing as they’ll know when and where the Tour’s best players will be in action. He also pointed to the Tour’s presentation on ESPN+ and investment in concepts such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TMRW Sports.
“What we started with will not be where we end up,” said Monahan. “I think you’ll see a lot of progress on that front.”
He also encouraged players to seek out other opinions.
“I’m only one voice, and granted, I’m honored to be able to lead this organization, but I think when you’re making choices like this, you need to know with certainty what you’re getting into,” explained Monahan. “And so I try and provide that certainty on our side and make certain that players understand it as they think about anything that might change.”
Monahan also said he “didn’t make much” of Norman’s recent visit to Capitol Hill, but the commissioner also heaped praise on Woods and McIlroy, who held a players meeting before the BMW Championship in August to discuss the Tour’s battle with LIV.
“When you take two icons of the game and they’re taking responsibility for bringing the guys together and continuing to think of ways to improve the PGA Tour, make it stronger and make commitments that have never been made before, it was a really important moment in time,” said Monahan, who noted how players look up to Woods and listen to him carefully in the same way that Jack Nicklaus still holds a commanding presence in the game.
“His on-course presence is matched by his voice or his off-course presence,” added Monahan.
You can read the full Q&A here.