CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jay Monahan has never faced a more tumultuous time as PGA Tour commissioner.
More than two dozen PGA Tour members have defected to the LIV Golf circuit, which is being fronted by two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman and funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The PGA Tour is presently facing a civil antitrust action from LIV Golf and three of its players professing it immorally suspended them for contending in LIV Golf events and is using its monopoly power to squash competition. TheU.S. Department of Justice has also opened a disquisition into allegations that the PGA Tour is a monopoly.
The PGA Tour responded to the trouble by raising its pocketbooks for 12 elevated events, which will have average pocketbooks of$ 20 million, to go on with the$ 25 million Players Championship. The stint’s top players have committed to play in 20 events starting this season.
Monahan sat down with ESPN for an exclusive interview before last week’s Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Club.
Some players have said that the stint and LIV need to come together. What’s your opinion?
Monahan Well, I suppose words and conduct are important. I suppose it’s impracticable when you look at the fact that certain players have sued the PGA Tour, their employer has sued the PGA Tour. It’s not in the cards. It hasn’t been in the cards and it’s not in the cards. I suppose we have been enough harmonious on that front.
Can the PGA Tour and LIV Golf attend?
Monahan I’d give the same answer. The answer to that’s they have gone down their path and I suppose we’ve been enough harmonious that we are going down ours, and I do not see that passing. Haven’t, and I don’t.
Where do you see men’s professional golf going from then in terms of the health of the sport?
Monahan Well, I can speak to the PGA Tour and the changes that we have made. You go back over the last couple of times, and as we came into’ 22, we came into a new rights cycle domestically. We were in a new rights cycle internationally with great media mates. And the way our business workshop, we induce our profit from media rights, from auspices and from the way that we spark in each request with our host associations. And we have looked at our schedule, we have made structural changes to our schedule.
We are in an alliance with the DP World Tour, working more nearly than we ever have ahead. I sit on the board of the DP World Tour. You look at the composition of our class and the global nature of our class, I suppose we are just going to continue to lean into the changes that we have made.
Some of those changes being the elevated events, concentrating our schedule, making our product as strong as possible, the platform that we give to our members. And it’s not just about media, our TV distribution. You look moment at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram– on a daily base, we are generating over 100 million videotape views and making certain that we are continuing to give not only the strongest competitive platform, but also the strongest brand platform for our players, given the values that we stand for as an association, the impact we have. We are going to concentrate on what we control and just keep getting better at it and stronger at it.
What did you make of LIV Golf CEO and manager Greg Norman’s recent visit to Capitol Hill?
Monahan We have been going to Capitol Hill multiple times a time for well before I got to the PGA Tour, and I did not and I do not make important ofit.However, 1974, when the PGA Tour was granted( nonprofit) status, If you go back to July 2. still, we have raised over$ 3, If you look back since that point in time.3 billion for charities, and we’ve promoted the values of the game, the competitive spirit of the game, and every constituency, every request then across all of our tenures has served from that( nonprofit) status. We feel veritably explosively and we take veritably seriously that responsibility.
So anybody that wants to attack it, we are veritably comfortable to tell our story and not only our story moment, but the continued inconceivable work that we are going to do to profit people and communities going forward.
What are you telling players to convert them to remain with the PGA Tour?
Monahan, I concentrate on where we’re and where we are going. And I concentrate on two effects What your possibility is from an income viewpoint on the PGA Tour,( and) from a competitive viewpoint on the PGA Tour, because eventually what I tell someone depends on what their purpose is. What do you want to negotiate? Everything starts with that. And also you respond to it. To me, if you want to achieve at the loftiest position of the game and you want to win the biggest crowns in the game, also we’ve an inconceivable story to tell on that front.
And also, you really talk about the model and make certain that a player completely understands what it means to have your independence, to be suitable to pick and choose your schedule, to be suitable to identify the companies and the people that you want to mate with, and to suppose about how your life is going to evolve as a PGA Tour member.
You might be a youthful player moment. You may get married in the future and have kiddies, and as you come a megastar and as further responsibility comes up, that is a really important element of what it takes to achieve at the veritably loftiest position. That is a commodity that has been a constant on the PGA Tour and is a really important element to success out then.
I also am quick to say Make certain that you are talking to other people. I am only one voice and granted, I am recognized to be suitable to lead this association, but I suppose when you are making choices like this, you need to know with certainty what you are getting into. And so I try and give that certainty on our side and make certain that players understand it as they suppose about anything that might change.
What did you make of Tiger’s meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, before the BMW Championship in August?
Monahan It was Tiger and Rory’s meeting and nothing gave me more pride because we have been battling for a long period of time then, and that meeting was a capstone of a lot of conversations and exchanges of ideas over the once several months. When you take two icons of the game and they are taking responsibility for bringing the guys together and continuing to suppose of ways to ameliorate the PGA Tour, make it stronger, and make commitments that have noway been made ahead, it was a really important moment in time. People talk about 1968( when the stint spun off into an association for professional players), people talk about when the PGA Tour was formed and people talk about 1994( when the PGA Tour rebuffed Norman’s plans for a breakaway World Golf Tour). And I suppose that was kind of that moment then.
At the end of the day for me, and I feel like I am getting blue in the face on this, but the competitive frame then and the integrity of that’s so important. And that is what those players are trying to cover. And so to me, understanding, esteeming history, esteeming tradition, recognizing it at the same time, figuring out how we can evolve in a way that actually improves upon that’s the absolute right way of going about effects. And to me, it’s not like that was.. That was part of a process, but it was a really important part of the process, if you know what I mean.
How important has Tiger’s leadership been to the stint?
Monahan It’s extremely important. I have said that intimately and I will continue to say it You win 82 times out then, you win 15 major crowns, you’re the host of the Genesis Invitational and you look at his TGR Foundation. You look at the fact that every player is out then and you’ve asked them the question, nearly every player out then, and one of the reasons they are out then is because they doted and looked at him. His on-course presence is matched by his voice or his off-course presence. And so, not only do they look at him, I suppose his peers look at him as a leader, the leader on the golf course, but also a leader off of it.
Again, a really important voice. So it always has been really important and it always will be. I mean, I think you look at Mr. [Jack] Nicklaus is here [at the Presidents Cup]. He’s going to be on the first tee for the Presidents Cup. He’s captained four teams. He hosted the event in 2013, and Jack’s presence and his voice continues to be a really important part of this game. When Tiger’s that age, it’ll be the same way. That’s what’s unique about our sport.
I guess the big part of LIV has been the changing the game, its newness. What can you guys do? I mean, competitive golf is competitive golf, but what can you do to make the fan experience different or have new and exciting things for fans?
Monahan: To me, change comes from two standpoints. One’s the player and one’s the fan. You and I have talked about the changes that we’re making on the competitive side of things. We’re going to continue to lean into that. And to me, that benefits the fan because knowing at the beginning of the year where the best players in the PGA Tour are going to play and knowing that you’re going to continue to have more stars, more storylines, more breakthroughs as we go through what is now a truncated season. I think we’ll create even greater interest, particularly when you look at the tentpole big moments in our game. And then, you look at the presentation of our product.
We’re on ESPN+ now, 4,300 hours, more than 50% of those individuals [watching] are under the age of 35. We are investing in all of our platforms to help build the brand and profile of our players. We’re making investments and we’re partnering in concepts like Tomorrow Golf [with Woods and McIlroy], which are certainly going to appeal to a younger audience and are going to serve a platform for innovation that will be a huge part of what we do over the next 10 years. What we started with will not be where we end up. I think you’ll see a lot of progress on that front. I think you look at our alliance with the DP World Tour and you think about the game from a global basis. We’ve been in a number of markets outside the U.S., as we reset the schedule.
I think that’s what this organization has always stood for and has always tried to get stronger and better at. And then I also think that there’s an important element here of purpose. And we talked about it earlier, but what is your purpose in playing the game? What do you want to achieve? But also, where do you want to align from a purpose standpoint? And the world needs more purpose.
The PGA Tour is an incredible platform that does so much good for every community where we play. We leave it better than we found it. We do so much good for so many people. We invest back in the game through First Tee and other programs. And we see through partnerships like the DP World Tour and through an even stronger global presence and partnership with other tours, as a system that’s only going to get stronger.
How can you make the Presidents Cup more competitive going forward?
Monahan: We invested in the Junior Presidents Cup back in 2017. I was out there on Tuesday, and the internationals were three ahead going into singles and the U.S. team came back and won. But that was as close as it could possibly be and I think that bodes very well for the future of the Presidents Cup itself.
And talk about exciting, at 550,000 square feet to build out [in Charlotte]. The closest thing that we have is the Players Championship, which is over 400,000. You have 40,000 people a day. The events sold out [on] Friday, Saturday, Sunday. The staging to me is exceptional. We’re playing a golf course that I think is going to create a lot of drama and excitement. And you’ve got more international fans coming in than we’ve had in the past to support the event. I think we’re on a really good path and a really good trajectory. The embrace that we’re getting and the interest that we have in this property are extremely strong and competitive.