Sincerity is dead – how has it come to this?

Mark McGowan

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Remember the good old days when politicians or public figures could be asked a question and would answer honestly and truthfully? No? Me neither. Being a cynic by nature, I always expect a certain level of dishonesty from those who stand to benefit from it. That’s not to say it’s ok – it’s definitely not – but I’ve come to expect it and take everything with a pinch of salt.

I’ve always thought Jay Monahan’s grand-standing akin to Hollywood Presidents’ favoured ‘We will not negotiate with terrorists’ stance, when in actual fact, not only have negotiations happened with terrorist organisations, there are multiple examples of governments colluding with terrorists to further their interests both domestically and abroad.

Did I expect that negotiations with the Saudi Public Investment Fund would take place? Eventually, yes. Eventually, they had to. But like most that work in and around the golf industry, when the bombshell dropped on Tuesday that not only had negotiations taken place but that a deal was signed and sealed that would see the PIF become the exclusive investor, retain exclusive right for further investment and first right of refusal on any potential new capital and that Yasir Al-Rumayyan would chair the new board, well, I thought someone was taking the piss.


But no, as we all know, that wasn’t the case. Not only was it all true, but the clandestine nature of the negotiations was more in line with a CIA operation than a business deal. If 2022 was a seismic year in golf’s landscape, it was only a minor blip on the Richter scale compared to this week’s earthquake and there are still more than six months to go before we all link arms and start belting out Auld Lang Syne.

Quite how the top tiers of global golf are going to look in the coming years are far from clear, but it’s blatantly clear that the PGA Tour’s commissioner has stood before the PGA Tour members and spoken out one side of his mouth, whilst quite clearly acting in a wholly different manner behind closed doors.

For that alone, regardless of the potential merits for the players and for the tours moving forward, his position should be untenable. Like Boris Johnson when he blatantly lied to the British public about the comings and goings at No. 10 Downing Street while the rest of the country was under severe Covid lockdown, lying to the people you’ve been elected to represent should be grounds for instant dismissal. No ifs or buts about it. But Johnson’s eventual removal from office was the result of a landslide that meant even those who’d lied for him and supported his lies, could lie and support no longer because of what it meant to their own political aspirations, not because of any moral objection.

The cynic in me expects lies, but the idealist in me says that they shouldn’t be accepted when proven so.

Rory McIlroy says that, like the rest of us, the announcement came as a shock though he was aware that negotiations were taking place. His refusal to discuss LIV in his pre-PGA Championship press conference was taken as a decision to focus on on course matters as opposed to golfing politics, but again, the cynic in me leads to the belief that he was a little more acutely aware that big change was imminent and having launched repeated torpedoes at what was once an enemy battleship, had now opted for a ceasefire with the knowledge that that same enemies’ admiral was in the process of taking control of the entire fleet.

Of course, McIlroy is a professional golfer first and foremost, and the world’s most deep-pocketed sovereign fund taking control of the sport that he plays for a living is going to have its benefits, and McIlroy has already gone above and beyond his duties as a PGA Tour deck gunner. Sometimes waving the white flag is the only option and he opted to give Monahan and the merger his backing, though he did call for serious sanctions to be handed out to those who’d “irreparably harmed” the PGA Tour by leaving.

Any sanctions imposed would be window dressing at best. The PIF got what they wanted when they drew up plans for what would eventually become LIV Golf. They didn’t want to be a bit-part player in the golfing landscape, they wanted to control it and each and every player that defected to LIV played their part in attaining that. Sure, they were well paid for their efforts, but they were all important cogs in the wheel and since money clearly speaks volumes, who’s going to tell Al-Rumayyan that his purse strings only stretch so far?

So, with that in mind, and despite the countless reasons that Jay Monahan should be removed from his position, that won’t happen because the powers that be determine that the ends justified the means.

Sincerity is long dead. How did we allow it to come to this?

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