PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan: LIV Series an 'Irrational Threat' to Golf

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2022

CROMWELL, CONNECTICUT - JUNE 22: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan addresses the media during a press conference prior to the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 22, 2022 in Cromwell, Connecticut. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan ripped into LIV Golf on Wednesday, calling the fledging league an "irrational threat" to the sport.

"If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can't compete," Monahan told reporters Tuesday. "The PGA Tour, an American institution, can't compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf.

"We welcome good, healthy competition. 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."

LIV Golf, financially backed by the government of Saudi Arabia, has landed several top PGA stars in recent weeks. Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia were among the initial defectors to the new league, and stars like Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed soon followed.

Each of the players who left the PGA Tour for LIV received significant signing bonuses, some of which were reported to be in the nine-figure range. The dollar figures have, at times, dwarfed the player's previous career earnings on the PGA Tour.

LIV Golf also offers $25 million purses for each of its eight events this season.

While some in the golf world have seen this as a course correction in favor of the players, Monahan views it differently.

"Currently, no one organization owns or dominates the game of golf," Monahan said. "Instead, the various entities, be it Augusta National or the USGA or the LPGA or the PGA Tour or the PGA of America, work together to meet our own respective priorities, but with the best interests of the game overall at heart.

"But when someone attempts to buy the sport, dismantle the institutions that are intrinsically invested in its growth, and focus only on a personal priority, that partnership evaporates, and instead 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."

LIV Golf has also been accused of "sportswashing" human rights atrocities committed by the Saudi Arabian government, most notably its involvement in the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Golfers who have left the PGA for LIV have largely deflected questions on the subject.