PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan Has ‘Zero Complacency’ Toward Saudi League

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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says there is “zero complacency” within the PGA about the emergence of a new Saudi-backed golf league that is attempting to woo the sport’s top players.

“All this talk about the league and about money has been distracting to our players, our partners and most importantly our fans,” Monahan told The Associated Press (h/t ESPN). “We’re focused on legacy, not leverage. You saw it last week with Joaquin Niemann winning, receiving the trophy from a legend [tournament host Tiger Woods] who inspired him to take up the game.

“Those moments can’t be replicated.”

The world’s top players have largely chosen to stick with the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson has been the most prominent current player linked to the league.

Author Alan Shipnuck posted an excerpt of an interview from his upcoming book, Phil: The Rip-Roaring (and Unauthorized!) Biography of Golf’s Most Colorful Superstar, that saw Mickelson seemingly justify getting in business with the Saudi government in order to change the PGA Tour. 

“They’re scary motherf–kers to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Mickelson, who later apologized for his comments, accused the PGA of getting away with “manipulative, coercive, strong-arm tactics because we, the players, had no recourse.” 

Shipnuck reported last week that 20 golfers are committed to the Saudi-backed league, which boasts Greg Norman as its CEO. A public announcement is expected next month.

Norman released a statement Thursday in response to Monahan’s comments, promising “this is just the beginning” of the league’s fight against the PGA. 

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