The First Call readers voice their opinions on how the commissioner has handled the PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf situation, along with the LPGA's future and the FedEx Cup playoff format
Question of the week [Aug. 15-21): What is your opinion on how PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has handled the Tour's situation with LIV Golf?
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1. The jury is still out on how the commissioner handled it. What is evident is that he and everyone else underestimated LIV. I mean what entity doles out this kind of money without an ROI? What’s evident is that Greg Norman avenged his desire for power by saddling up next to someone who agreed with his bitterness and had deep pockets and commitment. To me, Jay Monahan's best statement was his transparency on the "not an arms race" and I wished he would have shared that earlier, but what could any commissioner have truly done? In March it looked like LIV was sunk.
2. Right or wrong, revenue drives the world. If it took 30 years for Phil Mickelson to make $94 million on the PGA Tour, what human wouldn’t have signed for twice that in five seconds? On top of that, the Tour is usually over after age 50, so Phil’s days on the Tour were numbered (I realize he has an exemption).
I once met Phil at the clubhouse in Augusta. I ran into him 5 hours later and he called out my name. I’m not saying he’s perfect and the way sports has embraced gambling is awful — see point No. 2 (revenue). What I am saying is golfers are human, broken, have flaws and until you meet someone three times, don’t judge them.
3. The PGA Tour, like the NBA and the NFL are the name brands of their professional sport, period. If a junior's goal is to play professional golf and a brand/entity exists to support that, who cares what name or tradition is associated with it? The Alabama fight song still contains the words “send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave!” Yellow jackets? What yellow jackets, we don’t even play Georgia Tech anymore? Some traditions never die.
Like most of my friends, I don’t like change and the PGA Tour has done a lot of good for charity and communities. It’s evident there were a laundry list of items players belly-ached about and players can be petty and corporations can be prideful.
Lastly, it’s more evident than ever that sports is global and not just U.S. driven. For everyone’s sake, just say a prayer that charities continue to be benefitted, and players and entities are more humble and gracious with fans. The stoicism players take, just like college players wearing Beats, does nothing but drive a wedge between them and the fans and general public. For example, if an NFL or college game can allow fans to kick field goals for prizes, why can’t the Tour allow fans to hit a shot at No. 17 or be more fan friendly? Worse case, pull fans out to try crazy putts? How much creativity does that take to try new things?
The commissioner is in a difficult situation as any public comments he makes will be used against him and the PGA Tour in the upcoming anti trust trial with Liv Golf. His silence is a product of that legal threat. Any commissioner is going to be hamstrung competing against an organization with unlimited funding and no eye on a “bottom line”. Under these difficult circumstances Jay Monahan is doing about as well as can be expected.
I think Jay Monahan has handled the situation poorly. His approach assures that the PGA Tour, Tour and LIV Golf players, and golf, in general, will be dragged thru the mud.
The Tour has been the big and only king on the golf mountain forever. Over those years, the money pot grew, the game grew, and the internationalization of the game grew. Competition was going to be the inevitable outcome — and, sure enough, another wannabe king has shown up. And from a financial standpoint, this wannabe king can back up its competitive presence.
Monahan chose from Day 1 to be combative against LIV, meaning dragging the Tour and the players thru the mud. And such may have happened anyway, but it should not have happened from Day 1.
It would have made much more sense for Monahan to: 1, Meet with LIV-sans Norman; 2, Discuss all the pros and cons, so a thorough understanding of the goals, objectives and concerns of both parties was understood; and 3, go forward with a meaningful negotiation. Then? If no agreeable common ground could be found and agreed upon, then let the mud slinging begin.
Monahan is a bit of an arrogant guy — I guess that goes with his position — but these initial results with his approach shows that he has lost some very meaningful players, no doubt will lose some more, will lose market share in the infant Pacific Rim market, and, because the wannabe king has more money than the PGA Tour, will no doubt be forced to settle for a somewhat lesser position in the growing world of golf anyway.
In the End? The players themselves may well bring forth the solution — in a hotel somewhere in Delaware?
Want an example of the lack of leadership/negotiations that is somewhat similar? NIL and college athletics, and no doubt the players will gain a stronger financial position in this wannabe king struggle and the shame game could have been averted with a common sense approach in Day 1.
No competition is good for the sport. Look at the other major professional sports.
New York, New York
From my perspective Jay Monahan has handled the situation poorly. A grade of C-minus. Was thinking of a D, but given the significance of the play by the LIV’ers, I’ll cut him some slack. Monahan figured he would play the big bad tough guy and the whole thing would crumble. Saudi money said otherwise. Monahan thought Phil Mickelson was bluffing. Hmm, got that one wrong too. Overall, too much involvement with the press. I guess chess is not a game he plays at home. Would have liked to see how former commissioner Deane Beman or the former chairman of the Masters, Hord Hardin, would have handled things. Either one of them head-to-head would have been fun to watch. Playoffs? Playoffs? Did you say playoffs?
The Villages, Florida
Jay Monahan has hit it out of bounds on the handling of LIV Golf in all senses imagined. He came at it with an aggressive mindset, further showing the players who is working for who. While it may not be perfectly comparable, the Tour has seen this play out before, back in the day when Arnie Palmer and Jack Nicklaus joined forces to bring order into the tour.
Jay represents the Tour and while it is no small order, he and his team have fumbled this like a rookie NFL running back. They could have taken a different approach to this important topic with the idea being a more balanced partnership for the Tour players (more time for family, make golf fun for everyone). And to start increasing purses now looks like the ultimate squeeze play that Phil Mickelson was trying to help along — in his own peculiar way that mostly backfired in his face to the benefit of a bunch of others.
The business owners/leaders need to get it right and figure out how to make this a collective win for all before they lose more viewership. I for one am losing interest in even watching golf and I'm as close to a golf fanatic as they come.
Wilmington, North Carolina
PGA TOUR'S PLAYOFFS SYSTEM NEEDS OVERHAUL
As a math teacher, I should love the PGA Tour's intricate point system as a "practical application" of math. Wrong. It is exactly why convoluted systems like this that turn people off to math. Golf playoffs should be like those in other sports — after qualifying, every one starts even. To distinguish from, but not undermine, the four majors, the playoffs should follow a format similar to the highly regarded Western Amateur. Imagine a final weekend with the Sweet 16 dueling in match play.
LIV GOLF AND THE LPGA
I will never watch any LPGA event that’s supported by LIV Golf [Should LIV Golf be in the LPGA's future plans?]. I’ve been an LPGA fan and follower for over 20 years, but this association would be too much to support.
Center Valley, Pennsylvania
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