PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is returning to work just over a month after he stepped away for a “medical situation,” saying a two-year battle that ended in a surprise agreement with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf had been “grueling for all of us.”
Monahan informed the PGA Tour’s policy board, players and staff Friday evening that he will return to his role on July 17, the week of the British Open.
He said June 13 he was turning over day-to-day duties to two of his executives, just one week after announcing the commercial agreement with Saudi Arabia's national wealth fund.
Seven weeks of private meetings preceded the agreement, and the following week was spent trying to meet with players and explain to them why the tour went from battling the Saudi league to becoming its partner.
“I am deeply sorry that I haven’t been able to be with you during this time,” Monahan wrote. “The last two years have been grueling for us all. I experienced that toll personally in the days following the announcement of our framework agreement and encountered adverse impacts on my health.
“With the support of my family and thanks to world class medical care, my health has improved dramatically.”
The tour never disclosed what the medical situation involved.
Monahan had negotiated a nine-year media rights deal right before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down golf for two months and led to strict measures to return. Then came the formation of LIV Golf, which had billions of dollars from the Public Investment Fund to buy PGA Tour stars and start a rival league.
The PGA Tour was spending millions of dollars on legal fees for the antitrust lawsuits involving LIV Golf, and on a radically changed structure that doubled prize money to the $20 million range at elevated tournaments.
Then came the shocking announcement on June 6 in which Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of the PIF, revealed they would be working together.
The five-page framework agreement sparked concern of a merger. Monahan had said details were still to be worked out even as Congress and the Justice Department got involved.
“Over the last several years, as we’ve confronted challenges that called the PGA Tour’s future into question, we have devoted every ounce of energy to securing a stable path forward for our organization,” Monahan said in his memo. “With the framework agreement with DP World Tour and PIF, we are on a path to accomplish this goal.
“Should we be able to reach a definitive agreement, we can rest assured that the PGA Tour will continue to lead and shape the game for the future. Beyond that, we will have the ability to invest in our players and communities like never before.”
The day the deal was announced, Monahan faced players in a meeting he described as “intense,” with some players suggesting it was time for him to be replaced.
And then a week later, Monahan announced he was stepping away and two of his top executives — Ron Price, the chief operating officer, and Tyler Dennis, the PGA Tour president — would handle the day-to-day duties.
Over the last month, emotions have calmed as players try to grasp how the commercial agreement will work out — provided the government approves — and where it might lead. That includes a path back for players who left the PGA Tour and European tour for LIV Golf.
Monahan sent a separate memo to players saying he was excited to return and thanking them for their support during his absence.
“I will plan to join you in person at a tournament as soon as possible and address any and all questions you may have,” he said.
Price and board member Jimmy Dunne have agreed to appear before a Senate panel reviewing the agreement on Tuesday in Washington. Dunne and board chairman Ed Herlihy were the only board members working with Monahan on the Saudi agreement.