Jay Monahan Defends Decision to Suspend LIV Golfers: My Job Is to 'Protect' PGA Tour

Doric SamJune 12, 2022

AVONDALE, LOUISIANA - APRIL 20: PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan looks on during a pro-am prior to the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 20, 2022 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

On the heels of suspending 17 players for competing in the LIV Golf Invitational Series, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is standing by his decision to levy such a significant punishment.

While speaking to CBS Sports during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday, Monahan said he did what he believed was best for the tour:

"It's been an unfortunate week that was created by some unfortunate decisions, those decisions being players choosing to violate our tournament regulations. It's my job to protect, defend and celebrate our loyal PGA Tour members, our partners and our fans. And that's exactly what I did. And I don't think it was a surprise to anybody, given how clear I had been about how we were going to handle this situation."

LIV Golf completed its inaugural event this weekend at Centurion Golf Club near London. Charl Schwartzel was the winner of the 54-hole competition and received a total prize of $4.75 million, the largest sum in the history of tournament golf.

Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and longtime PGA Tour members Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Kevin Na were among those who competed in the event, making them ineligible for tour events going forward.

The LIV Golf Series is backed by the Saudi Arabian government, which has a history of human-rights abuses. Monahan criticized the players who chose to overlook the moral implications for monetary gain.

"It probably is an issue for players that chose to go and take that money. ... And I think you'd have to be living under a rock to not know that there are significant implications," Monahan said. "And I would ask any player that has left or any player that would consider leaving, have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?"

Rory McIlroy, who was victorious at the RBC Canadian Open, has been openly critical of players who take part in the breakaway golf league. He's also had a war of words with LIV Golf Commissioner Greg Norman, and he decided to take a dig at him after his win.

"This is a day I'll remember for a long, long time. Twenty-one PGA Tour wins, one more than somebody else," McIlroy said, referring to Norman's 20 career wins.

Any players who compete at future LIV Golf events will face the same punishment as the first 17 golfers. Former U.S. Open winner Bryson DeChambeau and former Masters Tournament champion Patrick Reed are set to compete in the second LIV competition, which will be held June 30-July 2 in Portland.