Last week, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan followed through with his threats to suspend golfers who chose to participate in any events held by the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series. Some of the biggest names in golf have jumped ship for a huge payday, and Monahan and other PGA golfers have spoken out against their decisions. Recently, the commissioner opened up about the situation during CBS’s broadcast of the RBC Canadian Open.
Monahan spoke with CBS’s Jim Nantz during the final round of the tournament on Sunday. Of course, Nantz asked about the suspensions for those that teed off in LIV Golf’s inaugural event at London, England’s Centurion Club. Monahan suspended golfers including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel. And the PGA Tour commissioner stood by his decision while speaking with Nantz.
“It’s been an unfortunate week that was created by some unfortunate decisions. Those decisions being players choosing to violate our tournament regulations,” Monahan said. “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. And I don’t think it was a surprise to anybody. Given how clear I had been about how we were going to handle this situation.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Explains Why Golfers Can’t Participate in Both Organizations
As the conversation continued, Jim Nantz asked Jay Monahan why golfers aren’t allowed to compete in both PGA and LIV tournaments. The PGA Tour commissioner didn’t mince words with his response.
“Why do they need us so badly? Because those players have chosen to sign multiyear lucrative contracts to play in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again. You look at that versus what we see here today. And that’s why they need us so badly. You’ve got true, pure competition,” Monahan answered. “The best players in the world are here at the RBC Canadian Open, with millions of fans watching. In this game, it’s true and pure competition that creates the profile in the presence of the world’s greatest players.
“And that’s why they need us. That’s what we do. But we’re not going to allow players to freeride off of our loyal members, the best players in the world.”
Golfers Facing Severe Criticism for Joining LIV Golf Events
LIV Golf is led by former PGA icon Greg Norman, who is the CEO of the rival golf organization. Norman and the participating athletes have already taken plenty of criticism for their involvement in recent weeks. The organization is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and many have accused the nation of sport-washing.
The rival golf league is paid for by one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds. The criticism mainly stems from Saudi Arabia’s alleged human rights violations, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Many say the Middle Eastern country is attempting to improve their nation’s reputation through the sporting events.
The Saudi ownership basically has unlimited funds, and they’ve already paid hundreds of millions in signing bonuses to golfers. Phil Mickelson reportedly received $200 million and Dustin Johnson got $125 million just to sign with the organization. Additionally, there’s $225 million in prize money up for grabs. Supposedly, LIV golf also offered PGA legend Tiger Woods $1 billion to join, but he rejected their offer.
The next LIV Golf event is scheduled for July in Portland, Oregon where Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Pat Perez will be added to the field.