Fellow Irish Open champ, Russell Knox is quietly confident he’ll have the numbers to topple ‘superstar’ opponent Rory McIlroy and be elected the first non-American Chairman of the PGA Tour’s ‘Players Advisory Committee’. Knox has thrown his cap into the ring along with McIlroy and American Kevin Streelman with the vote among the Tour’s rank-and-file closing later today (THURS) US time.
The Players Advisory Committee (PAC) is the European Tour equivalent of the ‘Tournament Players Committee’ and answers to PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan on all matters involving the players while the Chairman also sits on the Tour’s all-important Board of Directors. All three nominees are members of the 16-player PAC and with current Chairman, Charley Hoffman stepping down after his three-year stint.
The appointment of a new Chairman usually goes unnoticed but this year it would seem to take on more importance, not only that a non-American has never been Chairman, but also following the announcement late last year of the European Tour signing a ‘strategic alliance’ to work more closely with the PGA Tour.
“I’ve cast my vote and the funny thing was being paired with Rory last Saturday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and I said to him that I would play him for the Chairman’s position, so whoever won the round would take the role of heading the Players’ Committee,” said the Scot smiling ahead of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
“I ended-up beating him by a shot (Knox shot a 69 and McIlroy’s 70) and I may still not win the vote but it comes down to Rory and I, I have him pipped having beating him by a shot in Phoenix (laughing). He went out to stripe me on Sunday shooting that fantastic 64!
“There’s never been a foreign-born PAC Chairman so if Rory or I win it will be a first and that will be a big change on the Tour.”
Knox confesses McIlroy’s worldwide image would seem to make the four-time major-winner favourite but then Justin Thomas was recently singing Knox’s praise behind committee-room doors.
“I remember Russell brought up a couple great points at a recent Zoom meeting about events, WGC events that because of different categories and getting exempt into the tournament that we just didn’t — some people didn’t know of,” said Thomas.
“You can’t be very straight-lined and one-dimensional, if you will, in terms of who is on the PAC or who is making the decisions because you need people from all over, and I think Russell and Rory have both done a great job and they’ve really given a lot of great input. I think any of the candidates are great.”
Knox, who has only been on the 16-man committee for a year, believes he knows so many of the rank-and-file to get a majority vote.
“Well, when you look at golf’s global stage Rory is as big a name as there is, and competing on both main tours as he does, he is a superstar,” said Knox. “So, he’s in a great position to win given his stature. From my own view, I have been on the PGA Tour for almost 10 years now and I feel like I do get along with a lot of the guys, and when I was asked if I would run for Chairman, I was honest to put my name forward.
“I feel I would relate to a different Tour member than Rory does and, as I said, I feel like I have been around long enough that I could do a good job as Chairman. I am not 100% sure what the role of Chairman completely entails but I do know it is a three-to-four-year commitment. You also sit on the main Tour board that’s involved in the main decision-making process of the PGA Tour.
“There’s also Kevin Streelman who is the third nominee, but it would be cool if the players voted for me. If I don’t win it’s not like I will be disappointed but if I do, I will be thrilled but whoever wins, is going to be a good winner. I am also looking forward, kind of selfishly, to see where I land in the vote.”
McIlroy had been seen chatting with Commissioner Monahan ahead of last week’s Phoenix Open and later remarked: “I think it’s important to me. I feel like I’ve been on Tour long enough now that I sort of know the ins and outs of the goings-on of day-to-day Tour life and the business of the Tour, and I think I have some pretty good ideas.
“Also, this new strategic partnership, alliance with the European Tour, you know, knowing those guys as I do, you know, being close with the leadership of the PGA Tour over here, I think I could help in some ways. I think I could facilitate something. If I am elected, I would be very honoured to do the job. It’s something that I feel quite passionately about. Yeah, hopefully people see that and they vote for me. It would be an honour to represent the players on the advisory board.”