Commissioner Monahan addresses coronavirus, other topics
March 10, 2020
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- March 10, 2020
- PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan spoke to the media ahead of THE PLAYERS Championship. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan called the spread of coronavirus and its potential impact on tournaments “a very dynamic situation” that the TOUR will continue to monitor.
He said TOUR officials are relying heavily on the World Health Organization and the CDC for information and future steps. Thus far, no TOUR events have been cancelled (although the start of the PGA TOUR China Series has been delayed). All upcoming events, including this week’s THE PLAYERS Championship, are implementing recommended protocols to promote the health and safety of all attendees (additional hand-sanitizing stations, deep cleaning practices, etc.).
“I’m really proud of the amount of effort and thought that’s going into not only where we stand today but the commitment to continue to gain as much information as we can and candidly, the contingency plan for a lot of different scenarios, given that this is an unprecedented situation,” Monahan said Tuesday during his news conference prior to this week’s PLAYERS.
The recent cancellation of the upcoming SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, raised questions about the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club at the end of this month.
“That’s one of the tournaments that’s on the focus list, given its proximity to where we sit right now,” Monahan said. “We are fully planning on being in Austin, Texas, for the WGC-Dell Match Play.” He added that officials on the TOUR’s coronavirus task force are working closely with tournament director Jordan Uppleger, the mayor’s office and local health officials.
“We feel like we have support to continue to move forward with the event, full support,” Monahan said. “But I would say …. this thing is so dynamic that you just have to go hour-to-hour, day-to-day. But right now … we have every assurance that we’ll be in Austin for the event.”
Asked about discussions with PGA of America officials concerning the PGA Championship in May and whether the TOUR might offer alternatives in case a venue change is required, Monahan said, “They are fully planning on proceeding with the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco. But when you get in these extraordinary circumstances, you have to make yourself available to your partners and you have to really work as closely together as you ever have to help each other get through this.
“So there is no plan at this point in time for the PGA Championship to be held here. It’s going to be held at TPC Harding Park. But I would just pledge to you, as we’ve pledged to everybody else, that in all of our tournaments week to week that we’ve really got to listen and respond to the real information that we’re receiving on the ground, and it’s important for us to present a complete schedule, FedExCup schedule this year. And if we can do that, that’s what we’re going to do as good partners to the game.”
Other topics that the Commissioner addressed:
NEW MEDIA RIGHTS: The PGA TOUR announced new nine year deals with ViacomCBS, Comcast/NBC Sports Group and The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN+ yesterday.
“These partnerships put us in a position to significantly increase player earnings, deliver more value to our tournaments and sponsors, and ultimately allow us to grow our charitable footprint,” Monahan said. “It also should be viewed as a major victory for our fans, based on the elevated commitment from all four partners to help us grow and innovate that content and its delivery. When you add in our Discovery/GolfTV partnership, we now have domestic and international media rights secured through 2030, with unquestioned industry leaders. We're also pleased to successfully negotiate media rights for our strategic partner, the LPGA, through 2030. With this new rights agreement, the LPGA will continue as anchor programming on The Golf Channel and will also receive expanded exposure on CBS and NBC.”
FUTURE PRIZE MONEY: “I see us getting to $25 million (for THE PLAYERS Championship purse, which is at $15 million for this week’s event) … and there’s a day in the not-too-distant future where (the FedExCup) will be worth significantly more, perhaps $100 million or more. That’s not a commitment but that’s, generally speaking, the kind of growth that I expected for us to see for our athletes.”
TIGER WOODS MISSING THE PLAYERS THROUGH INJURY: “Any time you have Tiger playing, not only does it make an impact on golf fans and core golf fans… it reaches all tentacles of the sports marketplace worldwide. He is a global icon. As we sit here today, his presence, his excellence, what he's been able to accomplish over the last couple years, obviously we're disappointed he's not here this week. But in terms of our dependence, Ben Crane said it best: He said, when young kids started watching Tiger Woods, they stopped playing baseball, football, hockey, and they started playing golf, and now he's out here and he's competing against the very athletes he created. And so his presence is here, literally, even if he's not here playing in the tournament. And the way I look at Tiger is that will always be the case. His legacy is something that will always be celebrated the next 30, 40, 50 years or in perpetuity, and his impact, it's all around this property.”
GAMING: “It certainly presents another significant opportunity to grow fan interest and engagement.”
THE PROPOSED PREMIER GOLF LEAGUE: “I think that it's flattering when any entity is looking at what's happening on the PGA TOUR and they see growth, they see momentum, they see a broadening reach to a larger fan base domestically and internationally, and it's no surprise that someone is coming to try and take a piece of that. That's the nature of business.”