Ernie Els blasts PGA Tour chief Jay Monahan as he insists ‘the board has to change’ over shock merger with ‘circus’ LIV Golf

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Four-time major champion golfer Ernie Els delivered a harsh critique of the state of the sport and its two warring factions: the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.

With the two entities set to merge, Els – who won two US Opens and two Open Championships – spoke at length about the PGA Tour he used to play. 

‘If this happened in my day, in my prime, there’s no way he’s around,’ said Els, referring to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, in an interview with Sports Illustrated. ‘No way. And the board has to change. 

‘You do s— like this. I’m sorry, it’s not right. Talk to us, tell us what you’re going to do, plan on negotiating. Don’t just go rogue as a member of the board and come back with a deal and think we’re all going to say yes? 

‘You’re affecting people’s lives. You’re affecting the professional game. It’s just so bad.’

Major championship winner Ernie Els delivered a scathing critique of the PGA-LIV merger

Major championship winner Ernie Els delivered a scathing critique of the PGA-LIV merger

The deal, brokered by Monahan, tour board members Ed Herlihy and Jimmy Dunne, and Saudi PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will see LIV and the other golf assets under the Public Investment Fund under a new for-profit venture. The PGA Tour would remain as is.

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‘I know Yasir, I know some of those Saudi guys,’ said Els, who has played in the Middle East – and Saudi Arabia in particular – many times. ‘They love the game. But this (LIV) is circus golf. That’s not where I stand.

‘Team golf doesn’t work. It works maybe in a two-month, three-month happy season. Get these guys together, get teams together and play around the world. But (then) play real golf.

‘That’s what this thing is all about. That’s what I prided myself on. Like Tiger (Woods) and some of these guys. Playing that type of golf. Getting yourself into majors. And grinding.

‘And for these guys (the PGA Tour leadership) to go out there and do what they did, just off the cuff, as a board member, do a deal, nobody knows. 

‘The commissioner is supposed to be the guy running our Tour. These board members make a deal or a so-called deal and with no input from the players. It’s absolute shambles. I’m worried.’

Not all associated with the PGA is ready to throw Monahan under the bus just yet – with Jon Rahm coming out in support of the commissioner saying he should see the deal through.

Els believes that Jay Monahan and the rest of the PGA Tour board should be replaced

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Els believes that Jay Monahan and the rest of the PGA Tour board should be replaced

Others on the tour – including Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele – have said Monahan has to work to regain their trust.

Els added that the Saudis grand plans for growing their profile of sports have him concerned about what the future of golf will look like.

‘Listen, they want to do a lot of things in Saudi,’ Els said. ‘They’ve got sport coming. Whatever you’ve seen in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Qatar, they’re doing it on a bigger scale than that. 

‘So they want to set all these things up. Formula 1, golf, tennis, boxing. All this stuff. They want to become bigger. And Yasir wants to be a head of that.

‘Do we play ball with him? Does he come in at a different rate, maybe a smaller investment, see if they are the right partner? Not just come in and take over world golf. That’s just ridiculous. Need to slow things down.’

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Els added,  ‘I think they need to cut a deal. And Saudi comes in and invests in the Tour. They can bring a lot of money to the Tour. Hopefully all of that money flows down to people who got burned by this.’

Els believes PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan needs to be more transparent about his plans

Els believes PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan needs to be more transparent about his plans

He also that the legacy of the game is at stake and that he’d like more transparency from Al-Rumayyan on his plans for the sport.

‘I spent almost 30 years on Tour, playing against Tiger … people don’t mention me but I was there, he needed somebody to beat,’ Els said. 

‘There’s a lot of guys who did a lot for this Tour; they helped the Tour and helped build the game. Are you kidding me? And then this b——-.’

Els added: ‘I think Yasir needs to come out and say what he’s thinking. He’s going to be chairman of this NewCo, chairman of the board. Whoever is the commissioner, whoever is left, they are going to be answering to him. I don’t know how the hell they can’t see that.’

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