Is Monahan’s role as PGA Tour Commissioner safe in light of low Memphis player turnout?

Bernie McGuire
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Jay Monahan the Commissioner of The PGA Tour (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

What can we learn reading between the lines after only 35% of those competing in this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship made the effort to attend a Jay Monahan hosted players meeting this week in Memphis?

Can we be brazen enough to suggest this poor turnout of the leading 70 players on the PGA Tour is a red flag that the members of the Tour are not all that impressed with their Commissioner?

Some observers are suggesting that Monahan’s days in leading what was, until a year ago, the world’s richest men’s professional circuit could be numbered.

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The manner in calling a snap players conference two days prior to June’s RBC Canadian Open clearly did not enhance Monahan’s stature while the stress he said he endured leading up to that now infamous Canadian Open meeting forced the Commissioner, and one of the highest paid officers in pro men’s sport, into taking a leave of absence.

In 2017, the PGA Tour’s tax filing showed that Monahan was being paid $3.9m which included bonuses and incentives.

Three years ago, a Wall Street Journal report suggested Monahan’s yearly salary was $8.3m, with $5.9 million of that sum being long-term incentive pay and future retirement benefits.

After addressing those players who made the effort to attend the meeting, and they included Rory McIlroy though he arrived very late not wishing to break his training schedule, Monahan spoke of the ‘medical illness’ that forced him to step down for near on a month.

Monahan said it resulted from anxiety ahead of the shock June 6th PIF deal announcement that had built up for two years, and there were no guarantees when he stepped away on June 14 that he would make it back to steering the Tour.

And Monahan admitted – something that the sports world still finds hard to understand – his regret about the deal where players were left in the dark.

“I put players on their back foot,” Monahan said. “That’s something I regret and will not do again.”

Asked if he was the right person for the job, Monahan said: “I understand the position I’m in in the short term. But I think the real answer to that question is where are we at the end of this year? And I think where we’re going to be, it’s going to be a very positive place.”

However, Monahan gave little away to the fact-starved media on the on-going negotiations with the Public Investment Fund

“Our focus is on conversations with PIF,” he said, adding later that he was “determined to get this right.” He said a definitive agreement by the end of the year “is the target and that is realistic.”

“There is the short term and there is the long term. Looking out over the horizon, we feel like this is the right move for the PGA Tour to create a new commercial model that allows PIF to invest and to be able to grow the PGA Tour that will reward players and fans.

“That’s what we think is the right path forward.”

It still begs the question whether there might be bigger groundswell of unrest among the full player membership of the PGA Tour in pushing for Monahan to go.

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