PGA Tour chief dismisses LIV Golf as an "irrational threat"

Jay Monahan

It has taken him long enough but the commissioner of the PGA Tour has finally jumped off the sidelines and publicly gone on the attack against LIV Golf.

Addressing the media at TPC River Highlands today - venue for this week's Travelers Championship - Jay Monahan dismissed the Saudi-funded start-up as an "irrational threat" intent on buying the game of golf and "dismantling the institutions that are intrinsically invested in its growth".

At the same time, he unveiled plans for a new-look PGA Tour schedule that will see the FedEx Cup contested from January to August from 2024, as well as significant prize fund increases for some of the tour's biggest events effective from 2023. 

They include the flagship PLAYERS Championship, which goes from $20m to $25m. The Arnold Palmer Invitational, Genesis Invitational, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play and Memorial Tournament will all jump from $12m to $20m.

Conspicuous by their absence from the purse increases are tournaments the PGA Tour co-sanctions with its strategic partner the DP World Tour, amongst them the Genesis Scottish Open. 

In a bizarre chain of events, as Monahan was meeting the media, LIV Golf released a statement announcing the signing of yet another big name from the PGA Tour: Brooks Koepka.

The PGA Tour chief claimed to be unaware of that development when asked about it but left reporters in no doubt as to his feelings towards the Greg Norman-fronted start-up.

"We welcome good, healthy competition," he said. "The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It's an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.

"When someone attempts to buy the sport, dismantle the institutions that are intrinsically invested in its growth, and focus only on a personal priority... we end up with one person, one entity, using endless amounts of money to direct employees, not members or partners, toward their personal goal, which may or may not change tomorrow or the next day.

"I doubt that's the vision any of us have for the game."

As soon as the first shots were struck in the inaugural LIV Golf event at the Centurion Club a fortnight ago, Monahan sent a memo to players advising them that all current and future LIV Golf players would be banned indefinitely from competing on the PGA Tour.

That, of course, was before Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Abraham Ancer all jumped ship. 

Asked today if the PGA Tour has closed the door forever on those players, Monahan skirted the question.

"I laid out on June 9 our position on the players that had signed up for that first event, virtually all of whom made a long-term commitment to play in that series," he said. 

"So one event has been played, more are to come, and I think our position there is very well-established as it relates to any players that are going to play in future events."

Monahan also addressed uncertainty surrounding the PGA Tour's "strategic alliance" with the DP World Tour. For example, whilst the PGA Tour has suspended LIV golfers, the DP World Tour has not. Nobody, according to Monahan, should read too much into that.

"The PGA TOUR and DP World Tour, while in a strategic alliance, are two separate organisations. So we're going to do what we've done every step of the way, which is to follow our regulations and follow them very closely. The DP World Tour is going to do the same. That's the decision that they're going to make and they're going to make it independent of us."

The struggle for power in golf's very own Game Of Thrones continues.

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