PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is taking the threat of losing golfers to a new Saudi Arabian-backed “Super Golf League” (SGL) that’s set to tee off in September 2022 very seriously.
Per The Golf Channel, Monahan addressed the prospect of golfers choosing between the PGA Tour and the new circuit (which has also been called the Premier Golf League at times) during a player-only meeting at Quail Hollow Club on Tuesday.
In the meeting, Monahan reiterated that any player who joins the start-up tour will “face immediate suspension and likely permanent expulsion from the Tour.”
Monahan’s alleged threat comes on heels of a report that the Saudi Arabian-backed league had offered $30 million contracts to some of the Tour’s top players – including world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson.
First floated last year, the prospect of a rival top golf league was hurt by the pandemic and by several players, including Rory McIlroy, saying they would not be taking part due to the source of the funding. But the idea to create a competitor for the PGA Tour is far from dead.
“It’s still alive, and players and agents are just listening to their pitch,” one agent told ESPN. “That’s about it at this point. Just a lot of listening.”
Some of that listening was apparently done by European Tour chief executive Keith Pelley, who indicated the main investors behind the SGL made “a very compelling offer” to take over the European Tour. Pelley, who is aligned with the PGA, issued a statement condemning the apparent plans.
“We are aligned with the PGA Tour in opposing, in the strongest possible terms, any proposal for an alternative golf league,” Pelley’s statement read. “Since the launch of our strategic alliance last November, our two organizations have been working together to make global golf less fractured and not create further division, with the interests of all players and fans at the forefront of our thinking.”
Speaking at Quail Hollow, 32-year-old McIlroy compared the Saudi-backed plans to the recent attempt to create a European Super League in soccer and reiterated he would turn down any offers to join the new start-up “money grab,” according to Sky Sports.
“If you go back to what happened last week in Europe with the European Super League in football, people can see it for what it is, which is a money grab, which is fine if that’s what you’re playing golf for is to make as much money as possible. Totally fine, then go and do that if that’s what makes you happy,” McIlroy said. “But I’m playing this game to try to cement my place in history and my legacy and to win major championships and to win the biggest tournaments in the world. I honestly don’t think there’s a better structure in place in golf, and I don’t think there will be.”
The prospect of losing players to a Super League could be one reason the PGA will pay out $40 million in bonus money to 10 Tour players based on their popularity via the new Player Impact Program.