PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan found his job at risk during a meeting with players following the announcement of the shock merger with LIV Golf.
In a shocking move, the PGA Tour performed a U-turn on its stance on the Saudi-backed series, revealing it and the DP World Tour had agreed a deal with LIV to combine their businesses into a new, yet-to-be-named company.
Monahan revealed in a press conference that the merger had been in the works for seven weeks, according to Dan Rapaport, but the stars of the PGA Tour, including Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, were left in the dark, forced to find out in real time on social media.
The PGA loyalists were left infuriated by the move, and many reportedly turned on the commissioner in a ‘contentious’ players meeting at Oakdale Golf and Country Club ahead of the RBC Canadian Open.
Speaking to the Golf Channel, American professional Johnson Wagner revealed that the room broke into a standing ovation when it called for new Tour leadership.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan faced calls to step down in a players meeting Tuesday
Players including Rory McIlroy (left) and Tiger Woods (right) were kept in the dark
He added that there was ‘a lot of anger’ in the room and that ’90 percent’ of the players gathered had a negative reaction towards the deal and Monahan.
Six-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan had tweeted before the meeting took place, predicting the his fellow pros’ feelings towards the commissioner.
He posted: ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if players are looking into their options of removing Jay. Or at the very least unionizing.’
Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy added that some players called the commissioner a ‘hypocrite’ during the meeting but that Monahan ‘took it.’
Speaking following the meeting, Monahan told reports that he understood his actions would be seen as hypocritical to some.
‘I recognize everything I’ve said in the past in my past positions. I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite,’ he said. ‘Anytime I said anything I said it with the information I had in the moment.’
Some players didn’t even bother turning up to the meeting as Tommy Fleetwood reportedly shrugged his shoulders and said he was practicing his game when asked why he skipped the showdown.
Ogilvy also suggested that the Tour was forced into breaking the news Tuesday ahead of an official announcement to players as it was to be leaked.
The Tour announced a merger with Saudi-backed LIV golf (pictured Yasir Al-Rumayyan)
Tommy Fleetwood was one player who didn’t attend the meeting, instead choosing to practice
Six-time PGA Tour winner Hunter Mahan tweeted that players could look to unionize
Tuesday’s merger comes one year after LIV Golf’s first event, and ends its legal battle with the PGA.
While the PGA was accused of violating antitrust laws by banning LIV players from its Tour, golf’s preeminent circuit countersued its Saudi-backed rivals, accusing the outfit of interfering with its deals.
Players who defected to LIV Golf were banned at PGA events, but have continued playing at the majors. For instance, LIV Golf’s Brooks Koepka won last month’s PGA Championship.
The PGA-LIV merger came as a complete surprise, both outside and inside the sport.
It was only a year ago at the Canadian Open that Monahan attacked LIV Golf by asking his players, rhetorically: ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?’
Even PGA players, who had loyally stood by the Tour rather than taking the Saudi’s millions, were caught off guard by the news.
‘Shocked and confused,’ one unidentified golfer told Barstool’s Dan Rapaport.
‘Disgusted,’ another said. ‘They didn’t tell us anything.’
‘Nothing like finding out through Twitter that we’re merging with a tour that we said we’d never do that with,’ read a tweet from golfer Mackenzie Hughes.
PGA AND LIV IN SHOCK MERGER
And when asked if Norman knew about the deal, PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan told CNBC: ‘I made the call just before this [interview].’
Among several issues, Saudi Arabia has been attacked for its treatment of women, homosexuals, and for corporal punishment. Last year, the kingdom executed nearly 200 people (compared to 18 in the United States).
Furthermore, in 2018, Saudi Arabia drew the ire of the United States with the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. Khashoggi was invited to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where he was murdered and dismembered.
Victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack have also ripped the PGA’s decision to merge with LIV Golf, while calling out Saudi Arabia’s role in the tragedy.