PGA Tour pays the price for not hitting LIV Golf from the start

The empire reacted on Wednesday, but it was too little and too late.

Such is the state of the PGA Tour since Commissioner Jay Monahan’s latest chess move – an act that smacked of desperation when he announced a revised and condensed schedule that caters to the touring elite with more profitable purses – in an effort to stave off Greg Norman -led LIV Golf series.

But it never needed to come to that, because Monahan and the PGA Tour had a chance to discontinue the concept of a Kneeling Saudi-backed tour in the fall if they were proactive.

Instead, they have taken an approach that can only be perceived as greedy and arrogant and have now become reactive, finding themselves on the defensive.

The pity for them is that he never had to reach this stage, and that’s not a good thing for the PGA Tour or, especially, for golf.

To review: The Post exclusively reported in February that three top-tier PGA Tour players along with a deep-pocketed investor made a proposal to Monahan that would eliminate the threat of Saudi-backed tour.

According to three independent sources – two of which were gamers – with a deep understanding of that proposal, the PGA Tour nullified the alternative concept.

The concept, unveiled at Monahan in October, consisted of a series of eight team events featuring the sport’s best players that would be integrated into the existing PGA Tour schedule. Those events would replace some of the Tour’s fledgling events, which the player-investor group would buy from the Tour.

Jay Monahan and Greg Norman
Jay Monahan and Greg Norman
USA TODAY Sport; Getty Images

According to one of the sources, the group’s backer, who is already in business with the PGA Tour on the legalized gambling side, has pledged to invest $ 500 million upfront to kickstart the concept with another $ 500 million on the way. as the concept gained traction.

The trick: Those eight events would be owned by players and investors (50 percent each), and this didn’t fit the suits at the PGA Tour headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, even though it was clear that this could put an end to the threat of Saudi golf LIV.

Monahan took the proposal to PGA Tour Policy Board Chair, Ed Herlihy, and on October 30, according to one of the sources, it was rejected by Herlihy, a powerful corporate attorney, who told the investor, “If it’s not owned and 100% controlled by the PGA Tour, it will be seen as hostile. ”

Think about what has happened since then.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
Getty Images

LIV Golf is gaining momentum by the day as players defect from the PGA Tour. On Wednesday, Brooks Koepka, who finished 19th in the world and won four major championships since 2018, became the latest PGA Tour star to announce his involvement with LIV.

Followed by Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and a host of other big names already on board cashing Saudi checks. All three players who were part of that player-investor proposal in Monahan are part of LIV Golf.

One of the sources who was part of the proposal said that when their financier told Monahan, ‘Jay, I believe this Saudi championship will happen and this would be a great way to counter it,’ Monahan replied, ‘I don’t think it will happen.’ ‘

Quickly switch to Wednesday and listen to Monahan’s response when asked, “In retrospect, you or the PGA Tour underestimated the impact the LIV Golf venture would have.”

“I don’t think so,” Monahan said. “I took it very seriously from the start. So, I wouldn’t … I wouldn’t suggest underestimating it at all. ”

In addition to announcing the suspension of the 17 PGA Tour players who competed in the first LIV event two weeks ago in London, Monahan was conspicuously quiet as Norman and the LIV group teased some of his biggest stars.

That passive public approach, according to the players, was daunting, with many of them wanting a show of strength from him.

So perhaps Wednesday audiences lashed out at LIV, during which Monahan denounced the Saudi-backed series as a “foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars trying to buy the game of golf.”

He also said: “We welcome good healthy competition, but the Saudi LIV golf championship is not that. It is an irrational threat that is not about a return on investment or true growth of the game.”

Along with those combative words, Monahan also revealed a revamped program that caters to the tour elite with roughly $ 54 million in additional grants and, at least in part, resembles some of the submissions on the Tour this fall.

With so many big stars already playing for LIV Golf and other expectations to follow, it all seemed too little, too late on the part of the PGA Tour commissioner and his superiors, who seemed so determined to have it all that they lost sight of the threat that they could have shut down months ago.


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