‘I’m a big believer in the history:’ Jay Monahan says PGA Tour players-only meeting was crucial moment

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks during a press conference prior to the Tour Championship.

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Last week’s much ballyhooed players-only meeting was actually just the second in nearly 100-year history of the PGA Tour, according to Jay Monahan.

“There was one in 1994, and there was the one last week,” Monahan said Wednesday at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The ’94 meeting was when Arnold Palmer famously denounced Greg Norman’s idea for a World Golf Tour. Nearly 30 years later, two of the golf’s brightest stars were again denouncing a rival league to the PGA Tour. Again led by Greg Norman.

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That ’94 meeting may have been where Norman’s World Golf Tour suffered a mortal blow, but it was called on the heels of his announcement.

In Wilmington last week, Monahan said the situation was quite different.

“The fact that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy and the best players came together to rally around their Tour versus when you look back in history that meeting was to disrupt, if not destroy the Tour, as I said earlier, it’s a remarkable moment,” Monahan said. “The energy, the passion that they’re putting behind this, the thought — as I said earlier, I’m inspired by it, and I’m a part of all of it. They’re our partners, and that’s going to continue to be this way.”

Monahan announced a massive overhaul to the PGA Tour schedule and structure during his press conference and said many of the changes were discussed by the reported 22 players at last week’s meeting at the Hotel du Pont.

He admitted it was a slightly different process to come to these changes than usual, as opposed to first discussing them or having them originate from the 16-member Player Advisory Council (PAC). There even was a PAC meeting immediately before the player-only meeting in Wilmington.

“We talked about a number of programs for the membership and had a really good discussion with the PAC. I think they were encouraged by some of the investments we were considering making, some of which we ended up not doing,” Monahan said. “What we’re trying to do is to make certain that as we look to ’23, one, the best players in the world continue to play on the PGA Tour, be committed to the PGA Tour.

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“It’s atypical, but I think when you’re in a situation like this, that’s understood.”

Later in his press conference, McIlroy confirmed Monahan was not out of the loop of what was on the agenda.

“We kept Jay privy to all these sort of discussions so he could try to make some moves internally to try to get stuff happening pretty quickly, and obviously that has culminated in some of the announcements that have been made today,” McIlroy said.

Monahan was clear some of the changes were being discussed for a “long time,” but the meeting last week was a critical moment in getting pros to buy in.

“What transpired last week to me is a moment in time that we’ll always look back on as a moment that made this Tour, made this game even greater than it already is, and that’s because of the tremendous loyalty and commitment that those players and other players,” Monahan said. “I want to emphasize, those players are representing not just themselves as top players but many of them have been not-top players, and that perspective of how do we do this in a way that’s in the best interest of the collective, that’s the theme that’s come out of this and that’s the theme that we’ll be continuing to talk about as I come back and announce more changes in the future.”

The press conference took on a bit nostalgic undertone as Monahan, while decreeing the Tour’s need to evolve, also harkened back on the history of the Tour, and what the status quo has been. This is often a point used to separate the Tour with it’s new Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf, which launched in June.

History is similarly repeating itself between the Tour’s two players-only meetings. While Palmer confronted Norman before the World Golf Tour launched in 1994 and McIlroy and Woods are standing up after the launch of LIV, Monahan still seemed to trust the history of the PGA Tour will prevail.

“I’m a history major,” he said, “and I’m a big believer in the history of this organization.”

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 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 Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.