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Jay Monahan: PGA Tour commissioner faces resignation calls after shock LIV Golf merger

Jay Monahan understands people are going to call him a hypocrite following the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf merger; the PGA Tour commissioner faced calls to resign at a players' meeting; families of the 9/11 victims and Amnesty International issued criticisms of sportswashing

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PGA tour commissioner, Jay Monahan explains why the PGA, DP World and LIV Golf Tours are merging after a year of competing against each other.

Jay Monahan accepted he will be labelled a hypocrite and admitted players who turned down millions to join LIV Golf could be compensated following the shock declaration of peace in golf's civil war.

The stunning announcement of the merger of PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf's commercial operations came after 12 months of unprecedented disruption in the men's professional game following the launch of the Saudi-backed series.

PGA Tour commissioner Monahan faced calls to resign at a players' meeting which he described as "intense and certainly heated", with his previous comments that anyone who took LIV money would never play on the PGA Tour again cited and greeted with applause, according to Tour Advisory Council member Johnson Wagner.

"I recognise that people are going to call me a hypocrite," Monahan said. "Any time I've said anything I've said it with the information I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that's trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players.

"I accept those criticisms, but circumstances do change, and I think looking at the big picture got us to this point.

"It probably didn't seem this way to them, but as I looked to those players that have been loyal to the PGA Tour, I'm confident they made the right decision.

"They have helped re-architect the future of the PGA Tour, they have moved us to a more competitive model. We have significantly invested in our business in 2023, we're going to do so in '24."

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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called it a 'historic day' for golf following the merger with LIV Golf and the DP World Tour

Golf's merger: The key points

  • LIV golfers who were suspended indefinitely by the PGA and DP World Tour will be able to re-apply for membership from the end of the 2023 season
  • All lawsuits between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV golf will be ended
  • Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which funded LIV Golf's emergence, will make a capital investment into the combined entity as part of the agreement "to facilitate its growth and success"
  • A "comprehensive evaluation of LIV Golf to determine how best to integrate team golf into the professional game" will take place. LIV Golf's 2023 schedule will continue as planned

The reaction from the players in the immediate aftermath of the news the three tours would be merging was a mix of surprise and a sense of betrayal.

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods had established themselves as the biggest supporters of the PGA Tour in its battle with LIV Golf, but both were kept in the dark about the stunning deal announced on Tuesday.

PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy had been among those who were the biggest, with the Northern Irishman due to address the media for the first time since news of the merger broke at a press conference on Wednesday following the pro-am being played ahead of this week's RBC Canadian Open.

Asked if players such as McIlroy and Tiger Woods would be compensated for turning down lucrative offers to remain with the PGA Tour, or whether those who took pay-outs to join LIV Golf would have to pay that money back, Monahan conceded that was still to be discussed.

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Andrew Coltart explains how he would feel if he was in Rory McIlroy's position after news emerged of the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

"I think those are all the serious conversations that we're going to have," Monahan said. "Ultimately, everything needs to be considered.

"Ultimately, what you're talking about is an equalisation over time and I think that's a fair and reasonable concept."

Monahan met with players at the Canadian Open on Tuesday evening and three-time PGA Tour winner Wagner revealed many were calling for the commissioner to resign.

"It was contentious, there were many moments where certain players were calling for new leadership of the PGA Tour and even got a couple of standing ovations," Wagner said.

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Golfer Johnson Wagner reveals a number of players called for Jay Monahan to resign when the PGA Tour chief met with them at the Canadian Open

"I think the most powerful moment was when a player quoted commissioner Monahan from last year when he said as long as I'm commissioner of the PGA Tour, no player that took LIV money will ever play the PGA Tour again. It just seems like a lot of backtracking.

"I think as we step away from this and see it unfold in the coming weeks, I think we will get more clarity. There was a lot of anger in that room from players."

McIlroy 'will rightly feel aggrieved he wasn't consulted'

Sky Sports News reporter Jamie Weir on Rory McIlroy being left in the dark over the merger:

"He found out [about the merger] a couple of minutes before the rest of us did via a phone call. I texted him yesterday and got a very quick reply from him saying "All good", but I'm wondering whether it is all good for Rory McIlroy?

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PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan explains why he didn't consult with Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy before announcing the merger with LIV Golf.

"He was kind of a spokesman for the PGA over the last 12 months, he went out there and took a lot of the bullets for Jay Monahan. He was fielding phone calls and text messages left, right and centre from his fellow professionals... he was the one who spearheaded all the players coming together in a meeting in Delaware last August where they thrashed out this new vision for how the PGA Tour was going to look.

"His mental health has suffered, his golf game has suffered as a result and he's spoken openly about that in recent weeks, how he was devoting far too much time to it.

"Here he is now having to accept his prize funds are going to come from the source he had an issue with 12 months ago. I think Rory McIlroy will rightly feel aggrieved he wasn't consulted over this and that goes for a lot of these players as well."

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CEO of the European Tour Keith Pelley is asked how he thinks the players who stayed loyal to the PGA and DP Tours might feel after their merger with the LIV Golf Tour

9/11 victims' families, Amnesty International criticise merger

Leaders of the PGA Tour should be "ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed" in agreeing a deal with Saudi-backed LIV Golf, according to a group representing relatives of victims of 9/11.

With Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund backing the new, joint venture, 9/11 Families United said it was "shocked and deeply offended" by the move, which it says is "bankrolled by billions of sportswashing money".

A statement from the group said: "Saudi operatives played a role in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and now it is bankrolling all of professional golf."

The group's chair Terry Strada, whose husband Tom died in the World Trade Centre's North Tower, said Monahan had "co-opted the 9/11 community" when the split between the tours happened.

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Sky Sports News' Jamie Weir explains the implications of the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

"Mr Monahan talked last summer about knowing people who lost loved ones on 9/11, then wondered aloud on national television whether LIV golfers ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour," Strada said.

"They do now - as does he. PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed.

"Our entire community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window dressing in their quest for money - it was never to honour the great game of golf."

Mrs Strada's comments follow criticism by Amnesty International which said the merger - which will see PIF governor Yasir Al Rumayyan chair the new board of governors and allow the fund exclusive rights to further investment and first refusal on any other capital - was drawing attention away from the country's human rights record.

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Sky Sports' Andrew Coltart admits he was 'shocked' by the news that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf are to merge to become one unified entity

"While this may have taken some golf fans and commentators by surprise, it's really just more evidence of the onward march of Saudi sportswashing," Amnesty International UK's head of priority campaigns and individuals at risk Felix Jakens said.

"It's been clear for some time that Saudi Arabia was prepared to use vast amounts of money to muscle its way into top-tier golf - just part of a wider effort to become a major sporting power and to try to distract attention from the country's atrocious human rights record."

Watch live coverage of both the DP World Tour and PGA Tour on Sky Sports from Thursday with the Scandinavian Mixed from 12pm and the first round of the Canadian Open from 5pm, both live on Sky Sports Golf.

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