Lee Westwood has given an insight into the “emotional and passionate speech” made by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in the lead-up to this week’s Honda Classic, in which the main focal point was the ongoing controversy surrounding the reported Super Golf League.
The Englishman is believed to be a target for the Saudi breakaway circuit, with reports suggesting him and fellow Europeans Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson have been offered vast sums of money to join the F1-style venture led by Greg Norman.
However, those that do defect have been threatened with lifetime bans from the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the Ryder Cup, meaning it could bring an end to Westwood’s 25-year affiliation with the biennial contest.
The 48-year-old revealed ahead of the Saudi International he had signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and remains tight-lipped about the specifics, but admits he did notice Monahan’s “very careful” choice of words when addressing the players on Tuesday night.
“It was an emotional and passionate speech the commissioner made, just as you’d expect him to make,” Westwood said. “I thought that his choice of words, they were very careful and considered.
“He was very careful not to say anything about lifetime bans or banning people for life - he used different terminology. I think everybody is on their guard and trying to not put a foot out of place really.”
Funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, it is rumoured that Norman and co. have $1.5 billion at their disposal to try and lure some of the game’s biggest names over to the SGL. And while Westwood insists recent events haven’t impacted his future plans, he added that it would have been “daft” not to at least listen to proposals for the upstart league.
“I mean, if somebody comes into your business with a lot of money then you’d be daft not to listen to them. And to listen to what they had to say, everybody that heard what they had to say had to sign an NDA. Some people chose to tell you and some people didn’t. It’s tough to elaborate when you’ve signed one of those.”
Despite the riches on offer, the vast majority of the world’s best golfers have all pledged their futures to the PGA Tour. When Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson - two players who had appeared interested in the new concept - also declared in favour of the PGA Tour, Rory McIlroy said the SGL was “dead in the water.”
One man who refuses to give up, though, is Norman. In response to the ban threat, the former World No. 1 published an open letter to Monahan, threatening him with legal action should he try to “ban players from playing golf.”
The Australian also accused the PGA Tour of "bullying" players, before insisting that "this is just the beginning."
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A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: TaylorMade Spider X
Ball: TaylorMade TP5x
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