Calls for PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to resign received “standing ovations” at what he himself called an “intense” meeting with furious players following the shock news of a merger with LIV Golf.
With Monahan going back on previous comments about joining forces with the Saudi-backed new tour, it was always going to be a tense atmosphere as he faced players who had stayed on the PGA Tour through loyalty or morality reasons.
With some missing out on millions by turning down LIV Golf’s advances, only to now face the prospect of working with players who have cashed in and for employers they never wanted to work for – Monahan is on shaky ground with the membership.
And he faced several calls to step down from players who felt betrayed by the new joint venture with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF).
Veteran Johnson Wagner listened in to the meeting on an audio stream, and reported back to Golf Channel that “there was a lot of anger in that room from players. The players were calling for resignation.”
“It was contentious, there were many moments where certain players were calling for new leadership of the PGA Tour and even got a couple of standing ovations,” Wagner said.
“I think the most powerful moment was when a player quoted commissioner Monahan from last year when he said as long as I’m commissioner of the PGA Tour, no player that took LIV money will ever play the PGA Tour again. It just seems like a lot of backtracking.”
Wagner did add that: “If it’s possible, I gained even more respect for Jay because he was taking it from every single angle. Players were mad, players are calling for resignation, and Jay sat there and took it like a champ.”
The Golf Channel also quoted a number of anonymous players from the meeting with the main anger surrounding Monahan’s backtracking on the merger and the feeling of being betrayed.
‘I’M GLAD I’M NOT JAY TODAY’
Geoff Ogilvy said a lot of the anger came from the membership wanting “the loyal players rewarded and not almost punished for staying” – referencing those who turned down huge sums only to end up basically playing for the LIV owners anyway.
“I’m glad I wasn’t Jay today,” Ogilvy added. “There’s some grumpy players in there. I feel a little bit sort of, I’m not lied to, but just that the Tour has sort of changed its position quickly and dropped it on us really fast. So, maybe there’s a feeling of a lack of trust a little bit in the leadership.”
Ryan Armour, one of 16 members of the Player Advisory Council on the PGA Tour, said that they held a separate “less aggressive” call after the meeting with Monahan to discuss next steps, with the overall feeling being one of betrayal.
“There’s a lot of disappointment today,” said Armour, who did add that he previously thought Monahan did a good job for the players.
“What I have been told by my peers is that they feel betrayed right now. There must have been 20-25 guys who used that word. They feel backstabbed. And they feel slighted.
“For a year and a half now, we have been told how evil certain golf leagues are, how evil their funding is and where it’s coming from. And now, no financials have changed hands yet, but the mood in the room is that guys feel used.”
McIlroy, who reportedly clashed with Grayson Murray in the meeting, said little but how Monahan handles his relationship with the Northern Irishman and the likes of Tiger Woods will have a huge say in how this merger develops.
If he can’t settle the players down quickly then things could unravel before they’ve even seriously got the ball rolling on this incredible switch in the direction of pro golf.