Inside story of how PGA Tour Jay Monahan killed off Saudi breakaway plan

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How did he do it? How on earth did he persuade every top player aged under 40 to turn their backs on the Saudi golf revolution and declare their loyalty to the PGA Tour?

Make no mistake, last week represented a stunning triumph for tour commissioner Jay Monahan as the youthful sharpshooters and 37-year-old Dustin Johnson all declared their unequivocal support. Forget sportswash, think whitewash.

What a snub for Saudi golf commissioner Greg Norman, who must have been left with an awful sense of deja vu as his quest for a Super Golf League, featuring all the top names, went the same way as his idea for a World Tour back in the day. 

Last week was a triumph for PGA Tour commissionerJay Monahan (right) as a host of top players declared their support

Last week was a triumph for PGA Tour commissionerJay Monahan (right) as a host of top players declared their support

Even Bryson DeChambeau was left to see sense and declare, albeit grudgingly, for the status quo.

So how did Monahan pull it off? The inside story is an epic saga in itself.

He started by ripping up the long-established PGA Tour business plan, instead focusing it squarely on rewarding the youthful set at the head of the game.

The plan runs until 2025 and, over the duration, elite players will benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

37-year-old Dustin Johnson joined the young hotshots in pledging allegiance to the Tour

37-year-old Dustin Johnson joined the young hotshots in pledging allegiance to the Tour

Bryson DeChambeau was left to see sense and declare, albeit grudgingly, for the status quo

Bryson DeChambeau was left to see sense and declare, albeit grudgingly, for the status quo

Rory McIlroy, chairman of the player advisory council, said: ‘I’m not at liberty to share the details but let’s just say that anyone who plays well over the next few years is going to get seriously rich.’

Another council member in his forties was less impressed. ‘There really isn’t much in the plan for players like me,’ he told Sportsmail, but Monahan made it clear he wasn’t too interested in that set any more. He accepted that the Saudi model would appeal to those coming towards the end of their careers.

In fairness to Monahan, no one in the top 125, whatever their age, is going to starve.

Prize money across the board has increased by $65million to $427m. The tour’s flagship event, the Players Championship, will be worth $20m alone next month — almost double the $11m on offer as recently as 2018.

It is at the top end where Monahan has made serious adjustments.

Rory McIlroy, chairman of the player advisory council, said players could get 'seriously rich'

Rory McIlroy, chairman of the player advisory council, said players could get ‘seriously rich’

There’s the Player Impact Programme, where the top 10 who garner the most attention each year will share $50m.

Then there is a $20m bonus pool for the top 10 at the end of the regular season — and that’s before the FedEx Cup play-offs, where this year’s champion will walk off with $18m, a figure that will increase to at least $25m by 2025.

Then we come to three new limited field events that will begin next year, where the formats have still to be signed off but all will offer significant seven-figure amounts of guaranteed money to the best players in the game.

By 2025, someone could be making $50m in prize money per year and every member of the top 10 will comfortably make eight figures.

That’s in a career that could easily last 20 seasons and before drawing on the PGA Tour’s pension scheme, where someone like Collin Morikawa could easily accumulate a plan worth over $150m.

Players such as Collin Morikawa could easily accumulate a pension plan worth over $150m

Players such as Collin Morikawa could easily accumulate a pension plan worth over $150m

Monahan knew he had one ace up his sleeve when the Saudis revealed themselves as disrupters.

His young players grew up with dreams to win majors and play on the PGA Tour, not a circuit that might never see the light of day.

Armed with more than $1billion, thanks to an enormous eight-year television deal kicking in this season, Monahan seized on those dreams and added an irresistible whirl of financial incentives to pull off his astonishing coup.

It has come at a price — a heck of a price, in fact. What a time to be aged 25 and great at golf.

SAUDI ARABIA TO SPARK RYDER CUP CAPTAINCY RIPPLES 

What happens next in Saudi Arabia will have considerable repercussions for Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy. 

If the proposed Super Golf League collapses and Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood don’t make their expected leap, then that might be the next three skippers in line. 

Luke Donald looked a certainty for Rome next year once he got Padraig Harrington’s nomination, but what if Stenson’s name is on the ballot? 

All the Saudi shenanigans have delayed the process considerably but we can now expect a formal captaincy announcement next month.

Luke Donald looked set to be Europe's next captain but a collapse of the Super Golf League could put his position at risk

Luke Donald looked set to be Europe’s next captain but a collapse of the Super Golf League could put his position at risk

LANGER DEFIES HIS AGE TO CLINCH ANOTHER VICTORY 

About the only certainty when it comes to predictions in golf is that Bernhard Langer will win. 

The Champions Tour resumed in Florida last week with the same narrative as practically every other year since 2008, as the 64-year-old German matched his age in the first round and went on to extend his own record as the oldest winner on tour. 

Every year, a new group of 50-somethings join up, but it’s still making little difference. 

That’s 43 titles, would you believe, for Langer since he turned 50… and counting. 

Bernhard Langer extended his own record as the oldest winner on the Champions Tour

Bernhard Langer extended his own record as the oldest winner on the Champions Tour

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