Jay Monahan says PGA tour ‘passes’ from Saudi League threat, refuses to say if Phil Mickelson suspended

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Phil Mickelson has yet to speak to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan following critical comments and his involvement with a rival league run by Greg Norman.

But it looks like he will be required to do so before he returns to competition.

While declining to say whether Mickelson has been suspended, Monahan referenced the Hall of Fame golfer’s own words in which he said two weeks ago that he needed to take some time off.

Monahan, speaking to the media ahead of this week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, made it clear in his opening remarks that “the PGA Tour is moving forward” after considerable disruption this year from LIV Golf Investments, which has been trying for months Assemble the pieces for a rival tour with guaranteed big paydays and no-cut events.

The rival league, which has yet to be named, will be led by Norman, who in October was appointed commissioner. It is supported by the Public Investment Fund, which is managed by the Saudi government.

Mickelson was highly critical of the Tour, referring to its “abhorrent greed” in a Golf Digest interview and was later quoted in a Fire Pit Collective story in which he acknowledged human rights issues. man with Saudi Arabia that it was worth engaging with them. in order to provide leverage against the PGA Tour.

It was also reported that Mickelson helped Norman and LIV Golf with their business plan.

As part of his opening remarks, Monahan noted that the Tour is “about legacy, not leverage” – apparently a rejoinder to Mickelson.

“I haven’t spoken to Phil since he made his comments and since he said he was walking away,” Monahan said. “I think the ball is in his court. I would welcome a phone call from him. But it’s hard for me to talk about the different scenarios that could unfold.”

Mickelson, 51, won the PGA Championship last May, becoming the oldest major champion in history and marking his legacy as one of the best players in the game. It was his sixth major title and 45and PGA Tour victory. When the minimum age for induction was lower, Mickelson entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2012.

To start 2022, Mickelson missed cuts at the American Express Championship and the Farmers Insurance Open before finishing tied for 18and at Saudi International, an Asian Tour event supported by the Public Investment Fund. This is where he spoke to Golf Digest. Mickelson has not played since and his absence from the Players Championship is the first time he has skipped the Tour’s flagship tournament since 2003, when his wife, Amy, was due to give birth to the couple’s third child.

“Look, he’s a player who’s won 45 times on the PGA Tour,” Monahan said. “He won here in the players’ championship (in 2007). He inspired a lot of people and helped grow this Tour, his Tour.

“So as hard as it is to read some of the things we’ve said, eventually a conversation will happen when he’s ready to have it, and I’ll be ready to have it too.”

Pressed on whether Mickelson had been suspended or if he would have been welcome to take part in the Players Championship this week, Monahan said: “He stepped down of his own free will and was asked for time off. We gave him that time. We do not comment on disciplinary issues, potential issues or actual issues. But each player is responsible for his actions here.”

Conversations around a new league had been going on for several years, with Saudi involvement coming to the fore last spring. Norman, who in 1993-94 attempted to launch a World Golf Tour when he was at the top of his game, was officially announced in October, with some general plans released.

Related: What to Know About the Rumored Saudi Golf League Breakaway

The new league would offer $20 million purses with 54-hole events and no cuts and a team concept that would see 12 “owners” who would pick the other three team members. A 48-player individual event would be held while teams would also compete for a separate prize. About 10 of the potential 14 tournaments would be played in North America.

Monahan has made it clear in the past that PGA Tour players would not be allowed to compete in the potential league and that would end their status as Tour members. He also said players could be barred from future membership, a point Norman disputed in a recent letter to Monahan, suggesting a legal fight could ensure.

The subject was the first thing Monahan addressed on Tuesday.

“The PGA Tour is moving forward,” he said. “We have too much momentum and too much to accomplish to be constantly distracted by rumors of other golf leagues and their attempts to upset our players, partners and most importantly, our fans into not taking advantage of the Tower and game that we all love so much.

“I am grateful for the strong support our top players have shown recently and publicly, and I am extremely proud that we have turned the conversation around to focus on what we do best: hosting world-class golf tournaments with the best players for the best fans, while having a positive impact on the communities in which we play.

“We are and always will be focused on inheritance, not leverage.”

More Phil Mickelson coverage:

– Panel discussion: writers discuss unrecorded interviews, Phil’s next step
– Mickelson Saga is the latest example of Phil’s ego, recklessness
– Mickelson says interview was not recorded, apologizes for choice of words
– Koepka says everyone on tour is happy – except Phil
– Monahan says PGA Tour is all about legacy, not leverage

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