Truce with LIV is off the table, says PGA's Monahan

CHARLOTTE - PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has said that the idea of a peace deal with LIV Golf is "off the table" as the sport's civil war deepens.

The upstart Saudi-backed series sent golf into turmoil in 2022 by luring big-name PGA Tour players with record purses of US$25 million (S$35.6 million) and guaranteed money for 54-hole events.

Several LIV Golf players brought an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour that is set for trial in 2024, going against talk of uniting the two sides any time soon.

"I don't see it happening," Monahan told the Golf Channel this week at the Presidents Cup.

"When you look at where we are, and you think about words and actions, we're currently in a lawsuit.

"So coming together and having conversations, to me, that card is off the table and it has been for a long period of time."

The PGA Tour has made several changes for the 2022-23 season to allow its top talent to play more often for richer purses in a dozen events, moves designed to prevent more names defecting to LIV Golf.

"We're going to focus on things that we control," Monahan added.

"We have more assets at our disposal, stronger partnerships and we have the best players in the world... (we are) going to commit to play more."

Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed were among the US players ineligible for the Presidents Cup after leaving for LIV Golf.

The rival Internationals squad also lost access to half a team of top talent, including British Open champion Cameron Smith, the world No. 3 from Australia, Chilean Joaquin Niemann, Mexican Abraham Ancer and Australian Marc Leishman.

LIV Golf critics point to Saudi Arabian human rights issues and see its financing of the golf circuit as "sportswashing" in a bid for image improvement.

The PGA Tour is not the only entity cutting ties with those who have joined LIV Golf.

On Thursday, the Swedish Golf Federation said that it would not renew its contracts with Henrik Stenson, following his decision to join LIV Golf in July.

Stenson was sacked as Europe's Ryder Cup captain shortly after signing with LIV Golf. He had previously acted as an ambassador for the federation's para golf efforts and hosted competitions for both junior golfers and para golfers.

"We believe that Henrik, given his involvement with LIV Golf, can no longer act as a role model for Swedish junior golfers," the Swedish federation's secretary-general Gunnar Hakansson told news agency TT.

World No. 25 Kevin Kisner of the US Presidents Cup side backed Monahan's unwillingness to talk about a deal with LIV Golf.

"Who knows what the future would have held if he had a meeting with them," he said.

"But I don't think we were ever going to do business with them, (and) feel comfortable just allowing them to pump an exorbitant amount of money in our tour.

"They always wanted to come in and what we call 'sportwash' in our opinion and that's not the way we want to do our business on the PGA Tour."

But world No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, the winner of the 2021 FedExCup, said that he expects there will eventually be peace between the two factions.

"It has been so contentious, and it seems like it just continues to be contentious," he said.

"I would be surprised if there's not some coming together intervention because I just don't know of any sport, really, that has a legitimate fractured sport.

"When I look at all other sports, all the best players play together."

Cantlay sees a unified golf universe - eventually.

"I feel like if we're 10 years from now, everyone will be like, 'Oh, yeah, that LIV stuff. I remember that', and we'll all be playing at least some of the same events together," he said.

"It just will feel like a blip on the radar once it's all settled. It's just right now very unknown."


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2022, with the headline Truce with LIV is off the table, says PGA's Monahan. Subscribe