Tuesday's announcement that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (which owns and operates LIV Golf) wouldunder a new, for-profit entity came virtually without any warning to the golf community, including the majority of PGA Tour members. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says that was not by accident, telling Golf Channel on Wednesday that conflicting voices could have hampered negotiations between the sides had the deal not been kept confidential from the PGA Tour's membership.
"I think when you get into conversations like [this merger], there needs to be confidentiality," Monahan said. "I've spent my entire tenure here listening to our players. Over the past couple of years, I am so proud of the way they have rallied behind the Tour and this organization. Every single conversation I had that preceded our conversations with the PIF was really driven by those conversations and ultimately trying to do the best thing for our tour and our sport. But if you start opening this up and you are asking opinions and sharing where this is going, ultimately it is going to be very difficult to get to the result we have gotten to."
A swath of PGA Tour members -- major champion Collin Morikawa included -- took to social media after the announcement to make clear they did not have prior knowledge of the merger. Monahan added that he strives for transparency as PGA Tour commissioner, but reiterated concerns of the merger not materializing had the PGA Tour's membership had full knowledge of the situation.
"I am somebody who always wants to be transparent and always wants to communicate exactly where we are," Monahan said. "But in this situation, it was important I worked alongside our board and pursued what we thought was best for the PGA Tour, and maintain that confidentiality. Because, again, if it had not been done that way, I am not certain we would have gotten to this result."
A meeting that reportedly turned heated was held between Monahan and PGA Tour members Tuesday at Oakdale Golf & Country Club in Ontario ahead of this week's RBC Canadian Open. The merger comes after Monahan preached loyalty to PGA Tour members as players began defecting LIV Golf throughout the past year.
Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter and Patrick McDonald to continue the discussion on the PGA Tour merging with the PIF and LIV Golf + previewing the RBC Canadian Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Monahan admitted that Tuesday's announcement was a "setback" in terms trust between him and PGA Tour members who took Monahan at his word. He maintained, however, that the merger is "a great outcome for every PGA Tour member" and hopes trust will be rekindled if players can see the long-term goals in mind with the merger.
"There is no question that yesterday was a setback [in trust]," Monahan said. "I have had setbacks before. In terms of rebuilding trust, it starts with conversations that we had through the night last night and being here in the morning and talking to players, and explaining to them this deal and how it is a great outcome for every PGA Tour member and the game.
"I do not expect everybody to understand it right off the bat. I think this will take some time. But as you look out over the horizon, I am entirely confident when I talk to our players that is where we are going to take them. That is essentially where we are right now, and we will continue to have those transparent conversations now that we are in a position where we have identified what the framework is and where we are going to go."