4-time major winner rips PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan over LIV deal

Ernie Els of South Africa looks on during Day One of The 151st Open at Royal Liverpool Golf Club on July 20, 2023 in Hoylake, England.

Ernie Els is not happy with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

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The chorus of calls against the leadership of the PGA Tour is growing louder.

Ernie Els was the latest player to voice his displeasure with the Tour’s leadership in the wake of the bombshell framework agreement between the Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF). Speaking to Sports Illustrated‘s Bob Harig after his first round at the Open Championship, Els said Monahan would’ve been replaced during his prime in the 90s and 2000s.

“If this happened in my day, in my prime, there’s no way he’s around,” Els told Harig. “No way. And the board has to change. You do s— like this. I’m sorry, it’s not right. Talk to us, tell us what you’re going to do, plan on negotiating. Don’t just go rogue as a member of the board and come back with a deal and think we’re all going to say yes? You’re affecting people’s lives. You’re affecting the professional game. It’s just so bad.”

Since the deal was unveiled in a surprising announcement in early June, several players have expressed frustrations with Monahan and the rest of PGA Tour leadership over the secret nature by which the deal came about. Last week, Xander Schauffele said Monahan has “a lot less” of his trust now.

Others, like Jon Rahm, have expressed their support for the embattled commissioner.

Monahan and PGA Tour Policy board members Jimmy Dunne and Ed Herlihy spearheaded the deal, which also included the DP World Tour, that ended all litigation between the two Tours and the Saudi-funded LIV Golf.

Under the framework agreement, which has not yet been approved by the PGA Tour board or passed any federal regulatory hurdles, the three entities would combine their operations under a new for-profit company tentatively called PGA Tour Enterprises.

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Other details are still scarce but Els, a 19-time PGA Tour winner and two-time Open champion, was upset over how little the players were involved in the negotiations.

“For these guys (the PGA Tour leadership) to go out there and do what they did, just off the cuff, as a board member, do a deal, nobody knows,” the World Golf Hall-of-Famer told Harig. “The commissioner is supposed to be the guy running our Tour. These board members make a deal or a so-called deal and with no input from the players. It’s absolute shambles. I’m worried.”

Els isn’t necessarily against the deal, saying the Tour should finalize the agreement because the Saudis can inject tons of money into the Tour, but he also believes the legacy of professional golf hangs in the balance with the deal.

“I spent almost 30 years on Tour, playing against Tiger … people don’t mention me but I was there, he needed somebody to beat,” Els told Harig. “There’s a lot of guys who did a lot for this Tour; they helped the Tour and helped build the game. Are you kidding me? And then this b——-.”

You can read the full SI interview here.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.



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