McIlroy was a vocal opponent of LIV Golf, but the PGA Tour announced the merger without telling him. Photo: GETTY IMAGES/Andy
Rory McIlroy was involved in foul language at the already infamous Canadian Open players meeting as PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan tried to justify a merger with the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.
McIlroy remained silent until Grayson Murray, world number 227, yelled his resignation to Monahan, saying, “We don't trust you, Jay, you lied to our face.” McIlroy yelled back, “Just play better, Grayson,” but in the rebellious atmosphere, Monahan's defense by world No. 3 didn't seem to get unanimous approval.
The Golf Channel first reported on the exchange, and another source confirmed to the Telegraph. Sport, to which Murray responded by telling McIlroy to “fuck off.”
Shane Lowry, the 2019 Open champion, was another golfer who played at the Toronto club, where the Canadian Open is scheduled to begin on Thursday. The meeting came just hours after Monahan sat next to Yasser Al Rumayan, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund's manager, to announce the deal in a live TV interview. At that time, only a few people knew about the alliance. And none of these people make a living playing golf.
The merger was announced live on US TV by Yasser Al-Rumayan (left) and Jay Monahan
Among them were McIlroy, as well as Tiger Woods, and reaction was inevitably feverish when Monaghan was confronted by players he allegedly works for in a member-owned organization that pays him around £10m a year.
Johnson Wagner calculated that the room's negative/positive split was “90/10” and Monahan was under siege.
“There are a lot of disappointments today,” said Ryan Armor, a member of the Players Advisory Board. “My peers told me that right now they feel betrayed. There must have been 20-25 guys who used that word. They feel a stab in the back. And they feel resentful… For a year and a half we have been told how bad some golf leagues are, how bad their funding is and where it comes from. The finances have not yet changed hands, but the mood in the hall is such that the guys feel used.”
Jeff Ogilvie agreed. “I'm glad I wasn't Jay today,” said the 2006 US Open champion. “There are some grumpy players out there. I feel a little different, like I've been lied to, it's just that the tour quickly changed its position and brought it down on us very quickly. So maybe there's a sense of distrust of the leadership.
“It's just that no one really knows what's going on and the players don't know. But nobody really likes to be out of the loop. You know, everyone likes a bit of information, especially when it's your livelihood, your job, and the sport you love.”
Monahan explained that the merger was necessary to end the lawsuits. He called the agreement “framework” and acknowledged that it still needs to be approved by the Tour's political council. However, the hall knew that he would be let through. It wasn't just that Murray was demanding his head, and the accusation of “hypocrisy” was widely thrown around, which Monahan later admitted.
“I understand that people will call me a hypocrite,” he said. “But every time I said something, I said it based on the information that I had at the moment, and based on the fact that someone was trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players. I accept this criticism.”
Monahan addressed the players in Toronto, where they are due to play the Canadian Open on Thursday Credit : Twitter
Players remain in the dark. There are few details about the amount of PIF investment, anything resembling a schedule, and whether and when the rebels who took the money will be allowed back on tour.
“We didn’t learn much other than that there will be an alliance and the structure of the business will change, and I don’t know if it will all be happy families,” Ogilvie said. “I'm sure there's going to be a little carnage.”
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Criticism of Monahan and the PGA Tour executives was not limited to their members: accusations that they should be “ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed” came from the 9/11 Families United, relatives of those who died during the September 11 attacks. were mentioned by Monahan when he denounced the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
The group said in a statement: “Saudi operatives played a role in the 9/11 attacks and they now fund all professional golf. Last summer, Monahan spoke of knowing people who lost loved ones on 9/11, then asked aloud on national television if LIV golfers had ever had to apologize for being on the PGA Tour. They are doing it now – and so is he. The leaders of the PGA Tour should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed.”
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Bryson DeChambeau hardly helped the situation with his comments about CNN. When asked about 9/11 and the 2018 state-sanctioned killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, DeChambeau defended the Saudis in a remark similar to that of Greg Norman, LIV's chief executive, who said “everyone makes mistakes” in triggering a series of breakthroughs.< /p>
“Nobody is perfect,” DeChambeau said, “but we are all trying to get better in life. It's unfortunate what happened, but I can't talk about it because I'm a golfer. What I can say is that what they are trying to do, what they are trying to work on is to become better allies. I am not going to go into politics, I do not specialize in this. What I can say is that they are trying to benefit the world and show themselves in a light they haven't seen in a while.”