Should Tiger Woods Become PGA Tour Commissioner
View From The Fairway - Derek Clements asks whether Tiger Woods could succeed Jay Monahan as commissioner of the PGA Tour - and would that be a positive move for the game?
UNLESS you have been living on Mars you will know that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is under intense pressure.
Monahan has achieved many positive things on behalf of his players. The game is awash with cash and the best players are rewarded for their efforts in fabulous fashion. But Monahan's announcement of a likely peace deal with LIV Golf has changed everything. Players such as Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele have all been pretty vocal in their criticism.
You will recall that it is not so long ago that Monahan said LIV players would never again play on the PGA Tour. His about-turn has astonished many and raised more than a few questions. Inevitably, many have called for Monahan to go.
In his “state of the nation” address ahead of the Tour Championship, Monahan insisted that everything is on schedule and that good progress is being made to iron out any creases in his proposed deal. But many remain unconvinced.
However, the $64,000 question is: who will replace him? Actually, in today’s world, maybe that should be the $64 billion question!
If Monahan is sacked or decides to stand down it seems pretty clear that his replacement will have to be somebody the players respect.
Tiger Woods has recently joined the tour’s policy board. It came after he led a group of players to reshape the image of professional golf. And let’s not kid ourselves - the sport’s image is seriously tarnished right now.
McIlroy, a fellow board member, said: “Tiger has stepped up for all of us on Tour. I think he realises that the players that are on the policy board were trying to play regular golf, and at the same time try to navigate all these different things, as well. He’s maybe got a little more time on his hands than we do.”
So, is it too far-fetched to believe that Woods could replace Monahan?
McIlroy is right. The 15-time major champion does have time on his hands. It is clear that his best playing days are long behind him. He continues his recovery from the car crash in which he almost died but if there is one thing about Woods of which I am certain it is that he will not tee up a golf ball again unless he believes he can win. And the chances of that happening are slim to non-existent. And this is not a man we will see competing on the Champions Tour.
Woods led a group of more than 40 players in signing a list of demands that were presented to Monahan. It is part of a strategy to re-establish player control of the PGA Tour in the aftermath of Monahan’s secretive merger agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund. The demands effectively asked Monahan to surrender his unilateral governing authority to the PGA Tour policy board, a group of six players and six business professionals who help to guide the Tour’s general processes. It also included a demand that Woods be installed on the player policy board. This effectively gives the players a voting majority over Monahan and means that he will not be able to push through any merger without the approval of the players. It is a hugely significant move.
Woods is the face of these demands. It is quite clear that he aims to remain involved at the heart of the game.
Could he replace Monahan?
The biggest thing in his favour is that if you were to ask today’s players why they started playing golf, the vast majority would point to watching Woods on TV. That they respect him as a player is beyond question. And when he completed that extraordinary comeback to win the Tour Championship in 2018 and The Masters in 2019 there was hardly a dry eye in the house among his fellow players.
A bit like McIlroy, when Woods speaks, people listen.
Remember, too, that LIV Golf reputedly offered him the best part of $1 billion to join them even though they must have known that he would not have been fit enough to compete in even their meagre schedule of 54-hole tournaments. They wanted him on the books because he remains the biggest name in golf.
It is all too easy to forget the character flaws. It is a little-known fact that he is the most-fined player in PGA Tour history on account of his language on the course. Don’t forget that he knew full well that the cameras and microphones were following his every move, so he knew that when he swore it was going to be picked up and broadcast around the world.
Come rain, hail or shine, Phil Mickelson would sign autographs for fans until there was nobody left in the queue. Do you believe for one moment that Woods did this?
In his prime his interviews were anodyne at best and often monosyllabic, even though he knew that the world’s media were hanging on his every word. And that is before we even address his marital infidelity.
Woods was brought up to believe that he could achieve anything he wanted and that he could do anything he wanted.
So is he the man to replace Jay Monahan? The players would appoint him in a heartbeat. And I have to say that despite his flaws I believe that his passion for the game would guarantee that he would do the right thing for the game at a professional level.
More than that, as a black athlete, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that he would also be looking to get people from all backgrounds involved in the game, and would ensure that the PGA Tour spent serious amounts of money in helping to grow the game. And for that reason alone, he would get my vote! If I had one.
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