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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has heard the criticism directed at him over his handling of the framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
He is, however, unmoved.
Monahan, 53, has faced calls to resign – including from his own players – over the circuit’s clandestine negotiating with the PIF and LIV.
In a move that few saw coming, the two bodies, along with the DP World Tour, announced on June 6 that they were working together to try to create a new, for-profit entity that would unify men’s professional golf and bring to an end the most bitter and divisive period in its history.
Monahan was roundly condemned for his role in those discussions, having previously been massively outspoken against the PIF-funded LIV Golf League.
In the face of claims of hypocrisy and poor leadership, he took a brief leave of absence from the tour but has since returned and has no intention of going anywhere, no matter what his critics say.
Speaking at the New York Times’ Dealbook conference, Monahan said: “I believe that I am the best leader for the PGA Tour.”
He added: I was the best leader before June 6, and I was going to be the best leader for the PGA Tour [after].”
First reported on by Josh Carpenter of the Sports Business Journal, Monahan also confronted the handling of the June 6 announcement.
“I’ve been pretty direct and honest in owning the fact that the rollout was a failure on my part,” he said. “I’ve owned it and I’ve continued to own it.
“The way it was portrayed was incorrect. There have been some developments since that day, and as we’ve gotten into these discussions, our players, who ultimately are going to be responsible for the deciding vote in moving forward, are starting to see what we did on that day has a lot of merits and ultimately is going to be in the best long-term interest of the tour.”
On the subject of his leave of absence from the tour, he added: “On the morning of June 11, I went for a long walk, I prayed, I came home, and to my wife’s surprise, I said, ‘Honey, I need help.’ She said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘I need help, I’m in a bad, bad, bad place.’
“And at that point in time, I knew I’m the first person to run into a fight. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. And I knew the perception was that I was running away from a fight. And that was excruciating. That hurt me to my core.”
Monahan went on to say he subsequently checked himself in to an in-patient treatment centre.
“I applied myself, and by the time I got through that program, my doctors and my family looked at me and said, ‘You’re ready to go.’”
Now, as the end-of-year deadline for more detail to be added into the framework agreement approaches, Monahan insists he is confident a deal with the PIF can and will still be done. To that end, indeed, he is due to meet PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan next week for further talks.
“When this gets finalised, the PGA Tour’s going to be in a position where the athletes are owners in their sport and you’ve got not only the PIF, but you’ve likely got another co-investor with significant experience in business, in sport and brand, that’s going to help take the PGA Tour to another level and help us take share from other sports.”
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