With surprise Tiger Woods appointment, players seize more PGA Tour control
Following the PGA Tour’s controversial merger with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, players demanded more transparency from Tour leadership. On Tuesday, the players got their wish, in a move that involves the biggest name in the sport — Tiger Woods.
The PGA Tour announced it has agreed with its players on new governance and transparency measures while also announcing Woods as its newest policy board member. This comes after the Washington Post reported that 41 players — including Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and several other stars — sent a letter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan on Monday and demanded to have more say in the future of the PGA Tour and for Woods to have a seat at the table.
Woods has now been added as a sixth player director, joining McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson. The board also consists of five independent directors (chairman Ed Herlihy, Jimmy Dunne, Mark Flaherty, Mary Meeker and a to-be-announced replacement for Randall Stephenson) and PGA of America director John Lindert.
“[Woods] takes the future of the PGA Tour very seriously and he wants it to be in the best hands possible and it to be in the best position possible,” Justin Thomas said Tuesday from the Wyndham Championship. “I think it would be very easy for someone like him, all he’s done, just kind of like, ‘What do I need to do? I’ve made the Tour what it is, where it’s at financially, all the sponsors, TV deals whatever,’ and it would be pretty easy for him to just hide under a rock the rest of his life and be just fine. But that’s not who he is, he wants to continue to see the PGA Tour grow and succeed.”
Since the proposed merger was announced in June, players have voiced their displeasure with being left in the dark, and many have criticized Monahan’s handling of it.
“Most of the players on the PGA Tour are together and sort of want to be informed and want to have a say in sort of what happens,” said Xander Schauffele, speaking to the media at the Genesis Scottish Open last month. “Right now, you know, with this hearing and everything that’s going on, these are just sort of steps in the process to getting, I guess, not what we want but more transparency and sort of getting a seat at the table. It’s a for-members organization and that’s what it should be.”
Some of the language Schauffele used was in the Tour memo, too, as the Tour said this new agreement will ensure “that the Tour lives up to its mission of being a player-driven organization, ‘for the players, by the players.'”
The aforementioned merger is still a framework agreement, with much to be decided. According to the release, players and Monahan will work together to amend the Policy Board’s governing documents so that no major decision can be made without the prior involvement and approval of the board’s player directors. Colin Neville, the player directors’ special advisor, will also have full access to the framework agreement. Perhaps most important, player directors “will have full transparency and the authority to approve — or to decline to approve — any potential changes to the Tour as part of the framework agreement discussions.”
Woods hadn’t spoken publicly about the merger until Tuesday, and he’s been largely out of the public eye for the past several months as he’s recovered from injuries that have kept him out of major championships.
“This is a critical point for the Tour, and the players will do their best to make certain that any changes that are made in Tour operations are in the best interest of all Tour stakeholders, including fans, sponsors and players,” Woods said in the release. “The players thank commissioner Monahan for agreeing to address our concerns, and we look forward to being at the table with him to make the right decisions for the future of the game that we all love. He has my confidence moving forward with these changes.”
Monahan also admitted he’s committed to restore any lost trust or confidence that occurred “as a result of the surprise announcement of our framework agreement.”
Schauffele said of the commissioner at the Scottish Open: “He had my trust and he has a lot less of it now. So I don’t stand alone when I say that.”
Monahan returned to his post on July 17 after he was out for about a month for what the Tour said was a “medical situation.” He said in a July 7 memo to players that the days following the framework agreement impacted his health. He made some important announcements last week, too, which leads us to Tuesday’s news.
“My job in the negotiations — in partnership with our player directors, PAC and the broader membership — is to advocate for what is best for the PGA Tour members today and in the future,” Monahan said in Tuesday’s release. “Any agreement we reach must be shaped by our members’ input and approval earned through our player directors.”