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PGA TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 10, 2017
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
GEORGE SAVARICAS: It's officially nine days into Jay Monahan's tenure as PGA TOUR Commissioner, and his impact is already being felt. A new team event in New Orleans, a possible change to the Tournament of Champions in 2018. Those are just a couple things already in the works.
Rich Lerner sat down with the new commissioner to touch on the advice he's received and his vision for the future of the PGA TOUR.
Q. As you get started, have you reached out to any of the other commissioners, Roger Goodell, Adam Silver, people like that?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, I'd start out by saying I've certainly reached out to commissioners in golf, Keith Pelley, Mike Whan and others. There's a sense of camaraderie there.
And then, yes, Rob Manfred with Major League Baseball, and Adam Silver, I've talked to. They reached out to me on the day of my appointment, and had some conversations with them prior to that.
I expect that as we go forward, I'll talk to all the commissioners because, as I said earlier, I'm always listening, we're always trying to get better. These are people that have done exceptionally well, not only as commissioners, but as they've made their ways into those roles.
Q. How would you describe your managerial style?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: We have a great team. My job is to let them run. I am very involved in the business, very aware, but I'm there to support great people. That's the way I look at my responsibility. And when they need support, they know they always have me there for them.
Q. You have a relationship now with the LPGA Tour. What might come out of that?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: I mean, you could see men and women playing here at the Tournament of Champions.
Q. That would be cool.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: You could see that. That's something that we're thinking about. We're talking to Mike and the LPGA. We'd like to see that happen. We got some interest from sponsors.
Q. Right here, this specific event?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Right here, yes. Listen, we've been partners with the LPGA for a long time. When we made the announcement, it really wasn't anything new, it's just more formalized.
We're spending more time talking about how do we drive more people to the game, both men and women, girls and boys. Can we potentially get men and women in the same field of play. Again, another thing that no other sport can do. And then looking at media. Are there some shared efficiencies with how we present our tours to the world at-large.
Q. Why does the PGA TOUR choose not to make public player suspensions, as other sports do?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: You have to look at what is our responsibility as an organization to our players. And for us, it's to make certain that they comport themselves in keeping with the values of the sport and that they live healthy lifestyles.
We feel like there have been very few instances, going back to when we started anti-doping in 2008, all the way to this day. And we feel like we're doing a very good job because our players are living up to the objectives. I think our system is supporting that.
Q. Jay, these days sports inevitably runs headlong into any number of controversial cultural issues. I can happen in any number of states going forward. Recently the NBA pulled its All-Star Game from North Carolina in support of the LGBT community against the bathroom bill. Why does the TOUR choose to stay in North Carolina with its event and how will you handle some of these issues going forward?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Let me just first start off by saying that we have and we always will support or welcome an open and inclusive environment in our tournaments and in our organization. I think we've been very clear that we stand firmly behind the NBA, the NCAA and the ACC for the actions that they took relative to HB2.
But I think as we look at the PGA TOUR, we have four tournaments that have been in the market for an extended period of time, and those four tournaments are held at private facilities. Being a private facility allows us to treat the LGBT community with the honor and respect that we always have treated them. So nothing will change.
If we were at a public facility, I think you could see a very different position from us. But fortunately we're not in that position.
And as it relates to the second part of your question, we take great pride in the fact that the game of golf is at the center of pop culture and societal issues.
We will, as in the case of LGBT, as these issues emerge, we're very comfortable that we'll operate, as this game has always operated, in a way that is welcome, open and inclusive.
Q. Jay, how is is the PGA TOUR's relationship with President-Elect Trump and why would it matter?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: You go back and you have to look at our history with the Office of the Presidency. We've been very fortunate that we're coming off a string of presidents that have loved this game. That's going to continue with President-Elect Trump.
When he takes office, he probably will be the most proficient golfer that's ever sat in the Office of the Presidency, and he's certainly the most golf knowledgeable.
It's well-known we had a great relationship with the Trump organization in Miami at Trump Doral. We wanted to stay there. The reason that we did not stay there is because we couldn't find a sponsor. I was personally involved in that pursuit for close to 18 months, and disappointed to this day that we weren't able to deliver.
But as we look forward, I think January 18th we look to The Presidents Cup, we're excited to have President Trump participate, be there on-site, or in whatever manner he can. We look forward to finding a way to continue to work with the Trump organization moving forward.
Q. Presidents Cup should be exciting this year. How will the TOUR take advantage of that spectacular New York City backdrop?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, Liberty National is such a special venue. I think we've all seen that with the Barclays, now Northern Trust.
Really what we're trying to do is celebrate everything that is New York. To be that close to the Statue of Liberty, to Liberty Park... We're going to have events at Ellis Island. Our players will be taking a boat eight minutes from their hotel across to the venue itself. We're really trying to drive an international crowd to support the international team and to celebrate what's so unique about The Presidents Cup.
Q. I was reading an article about the NBA. They are embracing sports betting. It's a huge revenue stream. Is that something you would look at in the future or is that absolutely off limits?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Is it something we'd look at? Absolutely. We always look at things that other sports are doing, having success with, trends in the industry. It's something we've spent a lot of time on up to this point in time.
You look at DraftKings and FanDuel. You look at the gaming in the international markets. There's a lot of opportunity there. But there's some complexity, and that complexity has held us back from moving forward.
But we will look at it and we'll have an open mind towards it.
Q. Is slow play an issue? Why or why not?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: You look back to 2000. It took 4 hours and 45 minutes on Thursday and Friday to play 18 holes for our players. It takes 3 hours and 49 minutes on Saturday and Sunday. It the same amount of time it takes today.
It takes a player 38 seconds to execute their shot.
Q. Not all players.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Well, no, but at the average.
One of the things that we look at is we've got a commitment to you. We're putting our product forward within a timeframe, and we seem to complete our tournaments on time week in and week out with very few exceptions.
We're looking at the data. We're trying to find ways to continue to improve. But we feel like we've made some really good adjustments in the last couple of years.
Q. One thing you and I talked about on a couple of different occasions is how athletic your players are nowadays. If you lined up your top seven, eight guys against the top eight guys in any other sport, you could make a strong case that golf has the fittest bunch of athletes.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Absolutely.
Q. That reflect the population that you serve. In other words, they're not 6'11". I'm not knocking 6'11". I'd like to be 6'11", playing in the league. I think you know what I'm saying. They're 5'10" to 6'2" in some cases, very fit.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Jason Day now lives in Columbus, Ohio. When Jason walks down the street and someone sees him, they know he's a professional athlete, but they could consider him to be an athlete in any sport.
They are very athletic. They're very fit. They're very health conscious. They carry themselves exceedingly well. It's really exciting. If you think about what they are today and think about these young kids that are watching them, this is a trend that's going to carry forward for a long time to come and will serve the game exceedingly well.
Q. What impact does a healthy Tiger Woods have on the product?
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: It's a great impact. We've all seen it. You saw it at the Hero World Challenge. Comes out and makes 24 birdies. It's the talk of the entire sporting world. So we're excited that he's coming back, that he's got three events that he's committed to here in the first quarter.
Tiger brings a lot of people inside and outside the game to the PGA TOUR, and I think it's going to be a great lift in the first quarter. Excited to see how he performs.
Q. Last thing, Jay, because I'm a diehard sportsfan and I'm a Philly guy. Your list is a long one, a long list to choose from. Your all-time Boston sports heroes.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: My all-time Boston sports hero is Bobby Orr. I was born on May 7th, 1970. The game-winning goal in the 1970 Stanley Cup was May 10th. My mom always told the story about the parade going by Mount Auburn Hospital, as I was sitting with her waiting to leave the hospital.
But I had a chance to work for Bobby. I'd come to the office. I was young, really wanted to make a good impression. I get there 7:30 the first week. He was the only one there. Then the next week I tried 7:00. He was there. Then the next week I tried 6:30. Then I tried 6:00. He got in every day at 5:45.
He opened up his fan mail. He read it. He took that picture out. He'd sign the picture and personalize it, roll it up, put it in a tube, put a piece of Scotch tape on the tube. He would do that every single day, and he'd do it for two hours.
Then when my mom passed away, my parents were very friendly with the Orrs. Bobby just had his hip replaced. My mom died way too young. We were at the wake. It was raining. It was just a bad night.
Bobby was about an hour and a half out in the line. My uncle came in and said, The Orrs are way in the back of the line. Obviously Bobby had a bad hip. My dad said, Well, bring them right to the front.
My uncle went all the way back, saw Mr. Orr and Mrs. Orr, said, The Monahans want to have you come up front.
Bobby looked at my dad and said, I'm going to treat that lady with the same amount of respect that everybody else in this line is treating her with. I'm not moving an inch. After an hour and 45 minutes, he came into the wake and spoke to us.
I'll never forget it. Just very consistent with the way he operated and really cared about people, and I love that.
Q. Jay, again, congratulations. We look forward to working with you through the years. All the best in 2017.
COMMISSIONER MONAHAN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports