5 things we learned from Commissioner Jay Monahan’s State of the PGA Tour press conference

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said he is “certain” that a definitive agreement will be reached with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund before the end of the year.

“As I sit here today, I am confident that we will reach an agreement that achieves a positive outcome for the PGA Tour and our fans,” Monahan said. “I see it and I’m certain of it.”

Monahan spoke on Tuesday morning during his annual State of the PGA Tour at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, ahead of this week’s Tour Championship.

A year ago, Monahan introduced a number of changes that were implemented this season to combat LIV Golf, which had lured a number of the top players, including 2022 British Open champion Cameron Smith, with lucrative guaranteed contracts. Much has changed in the last 12 months, most significantly with the announcement of a framework agreement to create a new commercial entity with PIF. Monahan claims that a deal will secure the Tour’s position in “the driver’s seat” as the preeminent place for professional golf.

But at what cost? It has given Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the chairperson of PIF, a seat at the table he long desired, if not making him the most powerful person in the game. To Monahan, it is a price worth paying to make the litigation go away and bring new financial resources to the PGA Tour to make it bigger and, in his opinion, better.

“I see it because when you look at the performance of our players, you look at the commitment of our players, our partners, our fans, all of our constituents, our tournaments, I feel like we’re in the strongest position to be able to succeed and successfully conclude these negotiations in a way that protects the legacy of the PGA Tour on a long-term basis,” he said.

“I fully acknowledge that this hasn’t been an easy road,” he later added. “What’s most important through this all is that the PGA Tour has gotten stronger.”

Here are four more things we learned from Monahan’s press conference.

Short on specifics

Monahan was asked for an update on the progress of the negotiations to reach a definitive agreement. Despite promising more transparency, he declined to share any details, confirming only that the talks are frequent and “probably right where I would expect that we would be.”

“There’s an intensity and there’s an urgency and there’s a lot of work, good work, that’s being done,” he added. “We’re confident that we’re going to reach a positive outcome for the PGA Tour…I don’t have any reason to think that we won’t be successful.”

No update on LIV Golf and the potential return of its players

Monahan spoke for nearly an hour, beginning with a 19-minute speech at the outset of his press conference. It was an impressive word salad but on the subject of the future of LIV and the possible return of its players next season, he demurred.

Asked specifically if LIV Golf would exist in two, three, five years, he said, “I think there are a lot of questions that are specific questions that are going to come and have come to me as it relates — and have come to others as it relates to elements of what is in the framework agreement and elements of what we’re talking about. I’m not going to talk publicly about them until we’ve completed those discussions and I can answer that question specifically and directly,” he said.

When a separate question broached the subject of LIV players returning to the Tour in 2024, Monahan offered nothing.

I appreciate your question, and as I just said earlier, these are the kind of topics and discussions that we’re having right now with PIF. So to be able to project what’s going to happen, I don’t have an answer today and when we complete our discussions, we’ll have an answer for that question,” he said. “So that’s a non-answer, but that’s my position.”

Monahan health update

To hear the Commissioner tell it, he’s fit as a fiddle.

“I would put it this way: I have never felt better mentally and physically than I feel right now,” Monahan said.

The 53-year-old commissioner took a five-week leave of absence shortly after the framework agreement was announced to recover from a “medical situation.

“Obviously I had to take some steps to go from where I was to this position. But I’m a work in progress,” he said. “So I’m working on the things that I’ve learned that are going to help me in my life and help me in this role, and that’s something – like it is out here for our players, that’s something I have to work on every single day.

That’s how I feel, but more importantly my doctors, my wife, and girls, ultimately, that’s how they feel about how I’m doing. They are my arbiters.

But I really do, I really feel — I feel as strong as I’ve felt in a long, long time. And I feel inspired and ready to go from the position we’re in, ultimately, to generate a really positive outcome for the PGA Tour, and I came back ready to do that, alongside my peers and our players.

But I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to step away and really assess where I was and put myself on the path that’s going to allow me to do that.”

PGA Tour players taking back power

Tiger Woods recently became the sixth player director on the PGA Tour board, which gave the players a majority. Monahan was asked if he perceived that move as an indictment of his leadership and he did his best to spin it as a positive.

“I look at this as not an indictment, but a very positive, positive message,” he said. “For us to be in a place where our players want to be more involved …this is a very complex situation and if you’re a player director or you’re a member of the PAC, this is more complex than any other period of time, and I feel like we’ve listened, we’ve responded, and now we have the right people, the right process in place for us to be able to move forward and determine that future. But I look at it as a positive and something that I and we embrace.”

Monahan was asked how he’s dealing with regaining the trust of the players at a time when they want answers and he still can’t provide them. He pointed out that the Tour’s board will ultimately make the decision on whether the deal is approved.

“It’s pretty standard that, you know, there isn’t a lot that you’re going to be able to share. But we continue to reinforce the fact that the framework agreement ultimately is the path that we’re on and when we’re able to share more information, we will,” he said. “I think they also understand that with the governance we have in place, you know, we’re not going to be able to — it’s our job to put forward the best possible construct with PIF for the future, and we’re going to take that back to our board and ultimately they’re going to decide whether we’re going to move forward with it. I think players have a comfort level that ultimately that process is one — that’s a process that they’re getting more comfortable with now that they understand it.”

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek