Jay Monahan’s job security has the golf world whispering

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s job security has been at the center of rumors for months, but those whispers are growing louder.

The post Jay Monahan’s job security has the golf world whispering appeared first on Golf.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan’s job security has been at the center of rumors for months, but those whispers are growing louder.

The post Jay Monahan’s job security has the golf world whispering appeared first on Golf.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — You’re never supposed to talk about another man’s job. But what happens when everybody’s talking about another man’s job?

Welcome to the orbit of Jay Monahan.

The truth is that nothing about the last three days at the Players Championship can be counted as new. As player after player stepped to the podium over the last few days to address in some manner their feelings on the embattled commissioner’s standing in his current post, it was easy to see each answer as a relitigation of what’s already been said. Pro press conferences are often like that these days, and Monahan’s employment status has been cannon fodder for Tour rebels and LIV bots for the better part of the last three years. In this light, the latest round of player answers ranging from tepid disapproval to earnest defense could be viewed through the prism of big-event posturing — the same kind Monahan himself did on Tuesday morning when he spoke to the press for the better part of 60 minutes, mostly about nothing at all.

But then again, if the fraughtness of Monahan’s job security is nothing more than a narrative, why didn’t he say that?

“You know, there’s been a lot of good-spirited debate amongst our board,” Monahan said Tuesday when asked directly if any members of the Tour’s policy board had asked for his resignation. “I don’t think that would be a surprise to anybody, you know, given the events of last summer. But we are a unified front.”

A unified front, yes, but a unanimous one? Not really. Consider the report on Wednesday afternoon from No Laying Up’s Kevin Van Valkenburg that at least one player director on the Tour’s policy board asked Monahan to resign in December. And then consider player director Patrick Cantlay’s intentionally indirect tapdance around offering his support for Monahan.

“I think it’s really important that we’re all rowing in the same direction,” Cantlay said without ever mentioning Monahan’s name. “I think with this PGA Tour Enterprises board, I think it’s really exciting that we do have a chance to kind of start with something new and all move together in the right direction.”

Cantlay’s good buddy and Ryder Cup partner Xander Schauffele — who has been clear about his disaffection for the commissioner — offered a similarly icy reaction on Tuesday afternoon.

“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,” Schauffele said, reiterating a point he’s made a few times since the PIF blindside of June 6. “He could be the guy, but in my book, he’s got a long way to go to gain the trust of the membership.”

To be clear, it wasn’t all this bleak. Cantlay and Schauffele are uniquely strident figures in golf, and while their chilliness certainly speaks for a chunk of the Tour constituency, there are also a few reasons why Monahan has not only kept his job but was also recently given a promotion to CEO of the Tour’s new for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises.

Those reasons, stated roughly and for the record:

  • The Tour has navigated an impossibly tricky time in its existence under Monahan’s leadership without going under, as Monahan’s good friend and confidante Rory McIlroy pointed out, and that’s not nothing.
  • The commissioner’s impressive work inking a multi-billion-dollar round of media rights deals in 2020 — and his efforts to maintain critical sponsorships throughout the pandemic — are two of the few reasons why the Tour’s business hasn’t wilted under the weight of the multi-billion-dollar Saudi intrusion.
  • The Tour’s nabbing a $3 billion investment from the Strategic Sports Group (or SSG) extended a considerable financial runway to survive and thrive with or without the PIF deal … and also netted a not-insignificant chunk of the Tour’s members millions in make-good equity grants.
  • Most guys agree that Monahan is a “good guy” — someone willing to get into the trenches and fight for their best interests — and even his most spectacular failures (the handling of the June 6 merger, for example) have come out of his genuine desire to do good for the Tour and its players.

Some players clearly have seen the light in defense of Monahan, or are at least willing to suggest that he’s made the best of a very bad situation.

“Yeah, I think so,” McIlroy agreed when asked if he thought Monahan deserved to keep his job. “People can nitpick 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.”

“We had a Tour, we were all together, and the people that left are no longer here,” echoed Scottie Scheffler in an unusually forceful presser. “At the end of the day, that’s where the splintering comes from.”

At the Players Championship as with the previous three years, it is tempting to say that golf’s PGA Tour ranks have split into two camps: the guys who want Jay to stay and the guys who want him to go. But that’s what has made the first three days of Players week so interesting. For the first time, it’s become clear that the real threat to Monahan isn’t either of these groups but a third one: the guys who still don’t know.

This group isn’t necessarily in any hurry to get Monahan tossed out the door, but their faith in the sport’s future is not derived from the status of the man at the helm of it. It is derived from the collective interests of the Tour’s leadership, which includes the player directors on the Tour’s policy board — a group that recently took over a voting majority. They’re not thrilled with the job Monahan has done, but they’re not sure it’s yet reached the point of resignation. And they’d sure like to see the outcome of these remarkably fragile and secretive negotiations with the Saudi PIF before they make a final determination.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan

Jay Monahan revealed 1 clue about golf’s future at the Players

By: James Colgan

“As a leader of an organization, I 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,” said Viktor Hovland, carefully avoiding a forward-thinking stance on Monahan. “I don’t mind people making mistakes. We all make mistakes. 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.’”

“It’s just way bigger than Jay,” said Justin Thomas, also ducking addressing Monahan specifically. “I’ve been pleased with all the latest stuff that’s been happening and been going on, and Jay’s been a part of that group, so I think this is a lot bigger than one person sitting there and making all the decisions.”

It’ll be a while before Thomas, Hovland, Cantlay, Schauffele, McIlroy or Scheffler finds out if they’ve gotten their way. To be fair, not even Monahan knows that much himself. But the revealing piece of all the posturing during the first three days of this week is that there’s still posturing to be done at all.

“I have the support of our board, and I am the right person to lead us forward,” Monahan said Tuesday, evidently doing some posturing of his own. “I know that. I believe that in my heart, and I’m determined to do exactly that.”

But Monahan’s word only underline the bigger point: It seems there’s a lot more than money still up for debate surrounding the future of golf.

At the Players, the conversation is only getting louder.

The post Jay Monahan’s job security has the golf world whispering appeared first on Golf.