In his first interview since suspending 17 players for competing in the rival LIV Golf Invitational Series, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan defended the punishment in an interview with CBS Sports during the final round of the RBC Canadian Open on Sunday.
Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson, two-time major winner Dustin Johnson and PGA Tour veterans Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Louis Oosthuizen and Kevin Na are among those now ineligible to compete in tour events. after playing at the inaugural LIV Golf. tournament in London last week.
“It’s been an unlucky week that was created by some unlucky decisions, those decisions were players choosing to violate our tournament rules,” Monahan said. “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 anyone, given how clear I had been about how We were going to handle this situation.”
Rory McIlroy, who won the Canadian Open by 2 shots over Tony Finau, couldn’t help but take a subtle jab at LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman at a press conference on Sunday.
It was McIlroy’s 21st victory on the PGA Tour. “And one more than Norman,” McIlroy told a moderator.
“I think going up against the best and beating the best always makes it more special,” McIlroy said. “And then, look, I alluded to that, I had additional motivation from what’s going on across the pond. The guy who’s headlining that tour has 20 PGA Tour wins and I was tied with him, and I wanted to get a head start on that tour. of him. And I did. So that was really cool for me, just a little bit of pride about it.”
LIV Golf’s next tournament will be played in the United States, at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in Portland, Oregon, from June 30 to July 2. LIV Golf announced over the weekend that it has added former US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, former Masters winner Patrick Reed and Pat Perez to its roster. They are scheduled to compete in Portland.
Monahan said players who compete in future LIV Golf events will face the same punishment as the 17 players who were suspended last week.
When Monahan was asked why players couldn’t compete on both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf circuit, he didn’t back down from his earlier position that players had to choose one tour or the other.
“Why do they need us so much?” Monahan said. “Because those players have opted to sign lucrative multi-year contracts to play in a series of exhibition games against the same players over and over again. You see that compared to what we see here today and that’s why they need us so much. It’s true, pure competition.The best players in the world are here at the RBC Canadian Open, with millions of fans watching, and in this game, it’s the true, pure competition that builds the profile in the presence of the best players in the world. .
“And that’s why they need us. That’s what we do. But we’re not going to let players take advantage of our loyal members, the best players in the world.”
Monahan was also asked about the players who are criticized for competing on a tour funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Survivors and relatives of victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have criticized actors who downplay the Saudi monarchy’s history of civil rights violations.
“It’s probably going to be a problem for the players who chose to go in and take that money,” Monahan said. “And I think you have to ask yourself the question, why is this group spending so much money, billions of dollars, recruiting players and chasing a concept with no chance of return? At the same time, there have been a lot of questions, a lot of comments about the growth of the game. And I asked, how is this good for the game that we love?
“I’ve talked to the players. I’ve had a player meeting and I’ve talked to a number of players individually over a long period of time. And I think you’d have to be living under a rock not to know that there are significant implications. And I would ask any player who gone or any player who would consider leaving, have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?