Ian Poulter believes personnel changes atop golf’s existing tours are necessary in order to unite the fractured men’s professional game.
The LIV golfer was speaking in relation to the U-turn orchestrated by the PGA Tour which now sees golf’s status quo looking to cosy up to the Saudi PIF after more than a year of outspoken resistance.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has already accepted that people will call him a hypocrite for his role in the proposed deal, not least after Monahan used the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre to gain sympathy in a television interview with Jim Nantz in which Monahan also asked his players ‘when was the last time you had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?’
Unsurprisingly, the tour chief’s position has come under increased scrutiny with player trust broken at the top level of the game. Monahan has since taken medical leave away from his role, meaning he won’t testify before a Senate committee looking into the proposed deal with the Saudis next week.
If the deal goes through, the existing tours have promised to carve out a “fair and objective process” for LIV players to rejoin the PGA and DP World Tours, while those who remained loyal are expected to be compensated.
That said, given the personalities involved, any peace agreement is going to take time and Poulter, speaking ahead of this week’s LIV London event, believes a change in leadership can help with the process of repairing relationships at the upper tier of men’s pro golf.
“It would definitely help,” said Poulter. “I’m not going to say what those changes have to be, but shall we say there needs to be changes? People need to be accountable for their actions.”
Fellow LIV player Lee Westwood resisted the temptation to revel in the tours’ U-turn as fresh details come to light around the apparent health of the DP World Tour. Far from immune to criticism, Tour chief Keith Pelley will have a lot to answer for after it emerged from court filings in Florida that the PGA Tour regarded the European Tour Group as a “borderline distressed asset”.
“I think we’re happy within the position and the choices we’ve made and then it’s up to everybody else to form an opinion on it. Now it’s an informed opinion,” Westwood says.
“There’s a lot of people now looking like hypocrites. You’ve seen what people are saying in the press and now they’re backtracking. He [Monahan] has even admitted himself he’s going to look hypocritical.
“We don’t even have to say it any more. We knew it at the time about sponsors on the PGA Tour. He sat in front of the RBC sign when they [RBC] did the deal for Aramco to go public and make all that money from Saudi Arabia and the next minute he’s mentioning 9/11 families and stuff like that. It’s really uncomfortable to watch now.”