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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is fighting for the trust of his players as well as a deal that will shape golf’s future. 

Speaking ahead of the 50th renewal of The Players, Monahan insisted that the Tour remains locked in talks with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia in a bid to unify the elite male game.

But while he revealed “negotiations are accelerating”, details were scarce in his press conference about what the future landscape could actually look like.

The embattled Monahan faced huge backlash after blindsiding his playing membership with the shock framework agreement with the Saudi funders of LIV Golf last June.

• Jay Monahan issues update on PGA Tour’s PIF talks

• Billy Horschel: PGA Tour must change rules for LIV golfers

Yet he remains at the heart of the talks that will dictate the game’s future and has been named CEO of PGA Tour Enterprises, the for-profit venture that will control the circuit’s commercial endeavours.

And in Rory McIlroy, Monahan has a leading voice in the game who continues to lend his support.

When asked if Monahan was the right man to lead the Tour, McIlroy said: “Yeah, I think so. You look at what Jay has done since he took over. The media rights deal, navigating us through COVID, the strategic alliance with the DP World Tour.

“I would say creating PGA Tour Enterprises, we were just able to accept a billion and a half dollars in the business, people can nit-pick and say he didn’t do this right or didn’t do that right, but if you actually step back and look at the bigger picture, I think the PGA Tour is in a far stronger position than when Jay took over.”

But not everyone is convinced.

McIlroy’s Ryder Cup teammate Matt Fitzpatrick does not have faith in Monahan to lead the PGA Tour’s cause.

“Is he the right person? I don’t know. Probably not on paper,” Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports. “But it’s not like we’ve got a choice.”

Xander Schauffele is similarly skeptical.

“Trust is something that’s pretty tender, so words are words, and I would say in my book he’s got a long way to go,” the world No.6 said in Tuesday’s press conference.

Viktor Hovland has also hit out over Monahan’s “contradictory” leadership.

“There were some things that were said that have been walked back on and then things that have been very contradictory,” Hovland said.

“As a leader of an organisation, I will want a person like that to take some ownership and say, hey, we made a couple of mistakes, but this is how we’re going to rectify it, instead of kind of sweeping it under the rug, which I felt like has been done to a certain degree. So I don’t mind people making mistakes. We all make mistakes.

• Rory McIlroy told to make big change in bid to win more majors

• Brandel Chamblee reacts to LIV golfers missing PLAYERS

“But I think when you make a mistake you got to own up to it and say, hey, we’re trying to do better here, and this is how we’re going to do it.”

“He could be the guy, but in my book, he’s got a long way to go to gain the trust of the membership. I’m sure he’s got the support of the board, since they were with him making some of those decisions, but for me personally he’s got quite a ways to go.”

Billy Horschel, meanwhile, confirmed that players are split over Monahan’s future.

“Unfortunately I don’t think he has the full support of the entire membership but I’m hopeful the majority of the PGA Tour membership support him,” Horschel said.

When pressed on whether he has the players’ backing, Monahan said: “That’s a question that you’ll have to ask for players.

“I can’t generalise as it relates to players, but clearly given the responsibility I’ve been given by both boards, I have the support of our board, and I am the right person to lead us forward. I know that. I believe that in my heart, and I’m determined to do exactly that.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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