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Jay Monahan says he will reward PGA Tour loyalists as LIV defectors are allowed to return

June 07, 2023
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Chris Graythen

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday that those who remained loyal to the tour in its battle with LIV Golf “will be rewarded.”

As part of Tuesday’s landmark agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, players who defected to LIV will have the chance to reapply for membership on the PGA and DP World Tours. Given the massive paydays that players turned down to remain with the PGA and DP World Tour, this news was met with backlash at the players-only meeting at the RBC Canadian Open, with some players taking to social media to express their outrage.

“What that looks like for individual players in terms of keeping a tour card and bringing players back into the fold and then that sacrifices other people, that's where the anger comes from. I understand that,” Rory McIlroy explained Wednesday morning. “There still has to be consequences to actions.

“The people who left the PGA Tour irreparably harmed this tour, started litigation against it. We can't just welcome them back in. That's not going to happen. I think that was the one thing that Jay was trying to get across yesterday is like, guys, we're not just going to bring these guys back in and pretend like nothing has happened. That is not going to happen.”

However, in an interview with the Golf Channel on Wednesday, Monahan said those who did not defect will reap financial benefits for their decision.

“Their loyalty will be rewarded,” Monahan said. “I’m going to spend every single waking hour as we move forward here, we finalize this agreement and we move into the future, that the players that have created the PGA Tour, have created this pro-competitive, legacy-driven juggernaut, that have articulated and supported the direction that we’re going ... I believe, is going to make it better for all of our players, and loyalty, ultimately, as a leader, always needs to be rewarded.

“How that manifests itself is something I’m going to spend a lot of time working on. And I think when we’re having this conversation down the road, that’s something I look forward to being more specific about.”

Multiple stars were presented eight-to-nine figure deals to join LIV Golf—with Tiger Woods allegedly receiving an $800 million offer—but turned those offers down to stay with the tour. Given the entity offering those deals is now an official partner of the tour, Monahan was asked Tuesday evening in a media session how he would reconcile any hard feelings that would manifest from that perceived double-dealing. Monahan asserted those who stayed with the tour still made “the right decision” despite passing up millions from LIV Golf.

“It probably didn't seem this way to them, but as I looked to our players, those players that have been loyal to the PGA Tour, I'm confident that the move that they made was the right decision,” Monahan said. “They've helped rearchitect the future of the PGA Tour. They've moved us to a more pro-competitive model.

“We have significantly invested in our business in '23. We're going to do so in '24. As we finalize this process, I think any player that has stayed is going to realize that the money that they're going to make, the strength of this platform, all the things that we talk about are going to put them in a really strong position. They're going to win. They're going to continue to grow, and we're in a control position on their behalf as we move forward in this structure.”