8 Key Takeaways From Jay Monahan's Players Championship Press Conference

The PGA Tour commissioner faced plenty of tough questions about the past six months in golf during his pre-Players Championship press conference

Jay Monahan talks to the media before The Players Championship

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Jay Monahan appeared in his first public press conference since before last August's Tour Championship at East Lake on Tuesday, discussing all manner of subjects from the past six months.

The PGA Tour commissioner provided updates on negotiations with the Saudi PIF, where the US-based circuit stands following investment from the Strategic Sports Group, and shared his thoughts on a couple of key signings for the LIV Golf League.

Here are some of the notable topics discussed by Monahan at TPC Sawgrass prior to the 50th edition of the Players Championship.

What he would have done differently

Jay Monahan address the media at TPC Sawgrass prior to The Players Championship

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Monahan admitted he "could have handled last summer better" but said that he has "taken full responsibility and accountability for that." He stated that everyone has moved on and he has learned from it.

Monahan went on to say: "I've been humbled by it. I think I've gotten stronger as a leader, and the progress that we have made since that point in time, some of which I just talked about, and includes the SSG's investment in the PGA TOUR and the prospects that that brings forward, I couldn't be more excited about.

"I'm really proud of our players. I'm really proud of my team members. We're just trying to get better every single day, and I feel like as an organization we have come a long way in the last several months, and I expect next time I'm in front of all of you we'll have a lot more progress to report."

How he plans to deliver a return on SSG's investment

Jay Monahan and John Henry, Principal, Fenway Sports Group, shake hands

Jay Monahan and John Henry, Principal, Fenway Sports Group, shake hands

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It is a question many people have wondered since the $3 billion deal was confirmed. Monahan said the simplest way to do that is by focusing on the fans even more than they already have been doing at a time where golf is truly global.

He said: "When you grow fandom, ultimately, that drives your commercial success. We are fortunate to have an incredible group of loyal and committed corporate partners, and we are also incredibly fortunate to have such incredible following in the communities that we play. 

"All of our tournaments have grown year to date, and we just want to make sure we keep that momentum going. But in a complex business, it does come back down, and it's true for any sport, you're only as strong as your fan base and you're only as strong as your ability to grow that fan base."

PGA Tour, SSG and PIF have been in constant dialogue in recent months

Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan

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After the investment deal with SSG was confirmed, plenty of people were asking how the PIF officials might feel about a third party being involved in the future of the sport.

As it turns out, Monahan revealed all parties were speaking throughout - with a trip over to Saudi Arabia planned in order for the key stakeholders to meet.

Monahan said: "We made the decision on December 7th as a board unanimously to move forward with SSG. 

"It was important for SSG and it was important for the TOUR to engage directly with the PIF prior to finalizing any deal, which is why I joined principals from SSG on a trip to Saudi Arabia to meet with Yasir and members of PIF, and that's why we continue to have productive discussions."

"The greatest tour in the world"

Jay Monahan

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Monahan was fiercely defensive of his tour throughout the press conference at TPC Sawgrass, responding to a question about the PGA Tour not possibly being at its strongest point with a lengthy impassioned monologue.

He said: "In terms of our strength - and we are here at the week of The Players - you've got 144 players competing in this championship, and they're the greatest players in the world, and this is the greatest tour in the world.

"And it's the greatest tour in the world because if you're playing across the street last week at the Hayt Invitational or you're trying to climb the PGA Tour U rankings or you're a junior golfer anywhere in the world, this is the place where you want to play. 

"It's the highest expression of individual achievement in our game. There's been disruption in our sport, but that is a constant, and we do that week-in and week-out.

"Jason Gore talks about the fact that a star on the PGA TOUR can be born in three weeks, and that's what we do, and that's the strength of our product.

"We have the best tournament organizations and tournament operators in the world. We continue to do more good than any other organization in sport through our tournaments, through impacting lives. We talk about dollars, but it's about lives and it's about impact."

A heartfelt goodbye to Keith Pelley and Martin Slumbers

Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley at the 2023 DP World Tour Championship

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In what was - at times - quite a defensive press conference from Monahan's point of view, a more light-hearted question about the impending departures of DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and R&A chairman Martin Slumbers allowed the PGA Tour commissioner to let his guard down somewhat and reflect on two relationships which clearly meant something to him.

Monahan called Pelley "a peer", "a partner", and "a friend" before saying that the Canadian "deserves a ton of credit for leaving the DP World Tour in a strong position."

Meanwhile, Monahan pointed out how Slumbers brought "an intense focus on the values of the game" before going on to credit his work with enhancing The Open Championship as well as the R&A's worldwide brand.

Monahan on Anthony Kim

Anthony Kim smiles during round one of LIV Golf Jeddah 2024

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Before Anthony Kim signed with LIV Golf, there were reports that the former PGA Tour player was in discussions with his old circuit over a return.

Monahan revealed there were talks, but not directly with him, and the only way Kim would have been allowed to tee it up on the PGA Tour full-time would have been by earning his way back - or relying on several tournament invites.

Monahan said: "I did not have direct conversations with Anthony. Members of our team did, and they very clearly laid out what it would take for him to earn his way back to the PGA Tour. 

"I'm glad that Anthony is healthy and well, and we wish him well. I would have liked to see him compete to make his way back to the Tour. But, obviously, he made a different decision."

"I am the right person to lead us forward"

Amanda Renner interviews Jay Monahan at the 2023 Tour Championship

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Asked whether he had been asked to resign by either a player or independent director, Monahan failed to give a direct answer but insisted there were no cracks in Team PGA Tour.

He said: "You know, there's been a lot of good spirited debate amongst our board. I don't think that would be a surprise to anybody, you know, given the events of last summer. But we are a unified front.

"I can't generalize as it relates to players, but clearly given the responsibility I've been given by both boards, I have the support of our board, and I am the right person to lead us forward. I know that. I believe that in my heart, and I'm determined to do exactly that."

Monahan "never satisfied with anything"

Jay Monahan and Tiger Woods

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The final question of a press conference which lasted almost an hour garnered the longest and most in-depth response from Monahan. It was in regard to the model of the PGA Tour overall, but also featured a sub-question on Signature Events - a subject which has caused plenty of debate among players both included and excluded from teeing it up.

Brian Harman walked up to Monahan in the parking lot at TPC Sawgrass and told the commissioner he thought the Signature Events were "awesome" while Lucas Glover said they are "selfish and a money grab" in a recent interview.

After stating that he was "never satisfied with anything," Monahan pointed out that the tour tries to take on board as many different opinions as possible before choosing to make a change and went on to highlight many of the positive actions the PGA Tour has taken to improve its product, in his opinion.

He said: "You think about where we are now with the move that we made to play here in March, PGA Championship in May, three FedExCup Playoff events, that's made it even more competitive out here. 

"The fall itself where players are now playing for their cards and playing for positioning, that's made the fall even more competitive and consequential."

Monahan finished by talking about the DP World Tour alliance and creating a for-profit entity that he hopes will give fans the product they have been crying out for.

Live updates from...

Headshot of Jonny Leighfield at Effingham Golf Club October 2023
Jonny Leighfield

Hello and welcome to Golf Monthly's coverage of Jay Monahan's pre-Players Championship press conference at TPC Sawgrass - home of the PGA Tour.

The commissioner is due to sit down in front of the world's media near the Stadium Course at 11am EDT (3pm GMT) today, where he will be asked a series of questions regarding all manner of golfing subject.

It has been over six months since he last spoke publicly like this, so there will be plenty to mull over. We will do our best to bring you as much of Monahan's musings as we can.

Thank you for joining me!

People want answers

Ahead of Monahan coming out to talk for the first time in months, plenty of people are demanding some sort of clarity on a variety of subjects. Fried Egg Golf has asked whether this is potentially the most important press conference of the commissioner's career...

What the golfing world is saying prior to Monahan's appearance

Sky Sports' Jamie Weir and Dan Rapaport - as seen on Netflix's Full Swing - have both shared their thoughts.

Key questions for Monahan to answer today

Given the length of time between press conferences, plenty has happened out there in the golfing space. As a result, Monahan is likely to be quizzed on subjects such as LIV, player departures, the future of the PGA Tour, and this year's Players Championship field.

Here are the key questions we expect to be asked during today's press conference.

First signs of movement

We've had a shuffling of chairs and mic, and the sound guy has been along to do his thing. Looks like we might be close to starting...

Jay Monahan has arrived

After a joking quip of "how come you're not all wearing your hats?" the PGA Tour commissioner is settled in his chair.

He welcomes the media to the Players Championship and briefly runs through the history of the event while noting that Jack Nicklaus is here this week "to help us commemorate" the 50 years past.

Monahan goes on to say that there will be 22 hours of live TV coverage with "limited advertising interruptions" and thanks TPC Sawgrass' grounds team and relevant officials for their hard work in presenting the course in such perfect condition.

Monahan on PGA Tour field strength

"The PGA Tour has undergone a tremendous amount of change over the past few years." Monahan says the PGA Tour has "listened to its fans" by altering the schedule slightly, including moving the Players to March.

Monahan says strength of events so far this season has "improved by nearly 30%" when compared to last season. He also congratulates the three rookie winners this season, Nick Dunlap, Matthieu Pavon, and Jake Knapp - pointing to their various paths to this point.

Monahan highlighted the victories by other names such as Wyndham Clark, Hideki Matsuyama, and Scottie Scheffler as wins against "stacked leaderboards."

The commissioner is getting (or at least trying to get) ahead of questions about field strengths, it seems.

What the fans want

"If we fail on delivering for our fans, we fail on every front." Monahan says fans are tired hearing about conflict and who is getting what in terms of money. He says fans want to see more golf, innovative segments, and increased data on screen.

They want to see content that resonates. They want to see an evolution in the fan journey at tournaments, too.

Monahan says their new partnership with SSG will help with all of the above.


"I recently met with PIF chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, and our negotiations are accelerating as we spend time together. We have a shared vision, to quiet the noise and progress golf forward. I see a positive outcome for our great fans."

Message to PGA Tour fans

"All of this talk about investment and growth, I want you to know that we're focusing our energy on bringing you the most competitive and entertaining tour possible."

Looking back at the past three years - what would you have done differently?

There are always things you would do differently. I've spoken about this before, but obviously last summer, I could have handled that better. I have taken full accountability for that, but we've made so much progress since then. I've been humbled by that moment, but the progress that we've made since then (including investment from the SSG) is very exciting.

I'm really proud of our players, my team members, and we're trying to get better every single day. I expect the next time I'm here, we'll have a lot more progress to report. I want to focus on getting better.

How does PGA Tour deliver return on SSG investment?

If you look at what has happened over the past few years, off-course participation is at an all-time high, more people are playing golf on-course in the US than ever. We are becoming a more inclusive sport. Fandom is growing, and when you do that, that helps your commercial success.

We are fortunate to have amazing support in all of the areas we visit, and we thank those people for that.


As we go forward, having the investment that we have from SSG, it allows us to invest in data, new ways to present our sport. As we go forward, it will allow us to significantly and materially improve that.

Do you see a way back for LIV golfers?

Monahan says he can't talk about specific aspects of the negotiations with the PIF, so refused to be drawn on that question.

Did SSG investment make talks with the PIF more difficult?

"It was important to SSG and to us that we engaged directly with PIF throughout the whole process." Jay says he went to Saudi Arabia to meet PIF with SSG in January and ensure there was upfront discussion at all times.

I do believe negotiating with PIF is the right decision. Working with SSG is attractive to the PIF, too.

With the game booming, it is truly global, but there is a finite number of athletes. We are in a unique position where unification would be in the best interests of the game - if it can be done - and that is the approach we are taking.

Some players don't want LIV Golfers to be allowed back

Balancing the interests of our entire tour membership is complicated and difficult. That's why we have player directors, to help with that. They're doing an exceedingly good job.

We're not going to be able to satisfy everyone, but we're just trying to work on the best possible outcome for as many people as we can.

How is the Tour at its strongest possible point when so many top players are on LIV?

We're at the best tournament on the PGA Tour. This is the greatest tour in the world. We consistently produce talent. That's the strength and durability of our product. And the impact of what we do in terms of number of fans here, the fans watching at home, corporate sponsors are working to make this tour even better. We continue to do more good than any other tour or sport in the world through our tournaments.

As we sit here today, I've never been more proud or sure that this organization is going to continue to grow.

Is team golf a factor in the negotiations with PIF?

Monahan admits they are talking about team golf, but that he is not at liberty to talk about specifics. 

What was your reaction to Jon Rahm leaving?

I'm focused on every single member of the PGA Tour, the Players, and the rest of the season. We've made incredible progress with SSG about moving the tour forward. I can only focus on the things that I can control.

Monahan on Martin Slumbers and Keith Pelley departing

"It should come as a surprise to no one that Keith is leaving for the Toronto Maple Leafs given he's been wearing those blue glasses for the past nine years!"

Monahan calls Pelley "a friend" and is sad to see him leave. "Keith deserves a ton of credit for leaving the DP World Tour in a stronger position." We're excited to work with Guy, too.

Martin Slumbers has done a remarkable job with The Open Championship as well as growing the game through the R&A around the world - that will be a huge part of his legacy. I've enjoyed working with both of them. 

We've also had a lot of difficult conversations, but we've pushed each other, and that is what I'll miss about both of them.

On a potential World Tour

That concept has been discussed over the years, including Rory's time on the policy board. Part of my job is to balance the perspective of not only our policy board but also our entire membership.

It is undoubted that we have a global game now. Monahan points to new tournaments outside of America - including the Scottish Open, which is a co-sanctioned event with the DP World Tour.

What are the strengths of the PGA Tour nowadays?

There is a recognition that winning out here is a special achievement. What you see on a Sunday in terms of emotion in our athletes and fans, that is a unique concept to the PGA Tour.

It is a great strength of ours to have that history and legacy at every tournament. That's what we do, we change people's lives here on the PGA Tour.

The level of competition and the difficulty of winning or reaching the playoffs, things have got more and more challenging. Players are stepping up their efforts to compete and win. That is the centre of our strength.

On charity

We had a record year last year as it relates to charitable giving. We will push ourselves to continue to raising even more money. Charity will always be a fundamental element on the PGA Tour. The investment won't change that.

On Anthony Kim

I did not have direct conversations with Anthony. Members of our team did, and they very clearly laid out what it would take for him to earn his way back to the PGA Tour. I'm glad that Anthony is healthy and well, and we wish him well.

Has he been asked to resign by anyone such as player directors?

There has been a lot of good-spirited debate on our board. No surprise given the events of last summer, but we are a united front. Monahan says he is excited to serve in his role and with both PGA Tour Inc. and PGA Tour Enterprises boards to make sure business is being moved forward.

I have the support of our board, and I am the right person to lead us forward. I know that. I believe that in my heart, and I'm determined to do exactly that.

How do you regain trust with players if so much of what you do is in private?

If you look at the way we're talking as a board, and the frequency, the membership has a great respect for those six player directors. Those six are sharing and communicating as much as they can, but they know there are certain things they can't talk about publicly. 

What we are doing has clearly resonated with some of our membership, and I know a lot of people want a conclusion quickly, but being able to work with this board so closely has helped do this deal with SSG and additional deals in the future that will shape our tour.

On Signature Events

"I'm never satisfied." Monahan is pleased with how the first four have panned out.

Says Brian Harman came up to him in the parking lot at TPC Sawgrass and told him the Signature Events are "awesome."

Monahan highlights how the schedule has changed to suit fans and players. It used to be a case that the season went on for too long or that it clashed with the NFL. Why is the Tour Championship so confusing? Why are you not showing more golf shots? If you think about where we are now and what we've done to change all of that, including the Fall series, we are in a better place.

We pursued conversations with Netflix to better showcase our athletes in 2019. The pandemic interrupted that slightly, but we are back on track now. Looking at other aspects like the DP World Tour alliance, this is all a really long way of saying that we will do all of the things we need to do to grow and expand our fan base. 

We now have the capital to really push this on as a for-profit entity.

Closing remarks

"I'm grateful to see Steve DiMeglio in the back of the room."

And with that, a gruff-sounding Jay Monahan departs after speaking for just under an hour.

Bonus quotes involving Tiger Woods

Monahan was asked if he would consider initiating a kind of special exemption category for past champions such as Tiger Woods, who is not in the field for this year's tournament despite being a two-time winner.

Monahan said: "I think you all know Tiger well enough to know that he wants to earn his way into every competition. That's his makeup. But I think as you go forward and as you evolve as an organization and you think about how do you serve and satisfy a rabid fan base, those discussions more broadly would likely be held at the Policy Board meeting, and I'm sure we would have that discussion. But he [Woods] would be the hardest one to convince."