When the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced a framework agreement to merge their commercial operations, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan appeared the future leader and golf and LIV Golf’s Greg Norman a casualty of the deal.
Monahan lauded the “historic day,” and was hailed as the man who would oversee both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which is bankrolled by the PIF. And it was reported he even had the power to make LIV Golf go away.
As for Norman, LIV’s CEO and commissioner, we were told during a Senate subcommittee hearing one month after the announcement the Palm Beach Gardens resident is “out of a job” if a deal is reached.
Seven months later, Monahan’s star has crashed and burned and Norman, well, he’s as defiant and confident as ever.
Whether or not the sides reach a deal by Sunday’s deadline — Tiger Woods believes it’s possible — the biggest surprise in 2024 could be Monahan, a man who not long ago was a rising star in his field, cleaning out his desk in Ponte Vedra Beach and Norman surviving the chaos.
A scenario that suddenly is a real possibility.
While some PGA Tour members are calling for new leadership, Norman expressed his confidence that he and LIV are here for the long run during a meeting with select members of the media at Doral two months ago.
Norman was asked what he thought when he heard the PGA Tour’s chief operating officer, Ron Price, declare Norman would be squeezed out.
“I knew it wasn’t true,” he said. “There’s so much white noise floating around out there that I actually paid zero attention to. … I was never in any fear of anybody saying anything or any animus against me or anything like that.”
And Norman insists LIV Golf would continue as a “standalone entity” even if a deal is reached with the PGA Tour.
Meanwhile, Jupiter’s Xander Schauffele has been one of the most outspoken about Monahan’s future, telling Today’s Golfer he “wouldn’t mind” seeing new leadership.
“I would be lying if I said that I have a whole lot of trust after what happened,” Schauffele said. “That’s definitely the consensus that I get when I talk to a lot of guys. It’s a bit contradictory when they call it ‘our Tour’ and things can happen without us even knowing.
“It’s hard. I’m sure there are reasons for what happened, but at the same time, it puts us in a really hard spot to trust the leadership that did some stuff in the dark and is supposed to have our best interests at heart. I am a bit in the dark still. I hate to sit here and hope for the best.”
Monahan’s mistake was holding about two months of negotiations with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who heads the PIF, in secrecy. This angered the players and led to Woods being added to the Player Advisory Board to give the players a stronger voice.
Hearing the outrage, Monahan later regretted not looping in the players.
But Monahan clearly has lost the trust of the players, and watching Jon Rahm, who voiced his mistrust in Monahan at the U.S. Open, join LIV in November continued Monahan’s downward spiral.
“Management has not done a good job,” Viktor Hovland said in a recent podcast. “You see what happens behind closed doors, how management actually makes decisions that are not in the players’ best interest but best for themselves and what they think is best.”
As much as Monahan dismissed LIV Golf publicly — he once said LIV was an “irrational threat” — the league that has poached stars like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and now Rahm — from the PGA Tour, also has gotten its attention.
The Tour’s infusion of money into prize purses and the Player Impact Program, and begging sponsors to increase financial commitments is a direct result of LIV’s threat.
LIV gained leverage in these negotiations after signing Rahm and the PGA Tour knows it cannot compete with the PIF’s war chest of more than $700 billion.
That puts Norman in a position of strength. And Monahan desperately trying to hold on.