Jay Monahan, PGA TOUR Commissioner (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

EDIT(6/7): For the part mentioned in the title, scroll down to the heading ” It Took The Balls Right Off Jay Monahan”

The news dropped this morning. The PGA and rival LIV Golf have agreed to merge. Shemon & Sheppard interviewed former PGA Pro Mark Lye. And Mark did not hide his thoughts on PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan. (I used a transcription program from the on air interview. Please pardon any misspellings, the program isn’t perfect. If you’d rather listen to the audio, it’s posted after the text.)

Craig: The details are thin, but the news is big. Mark Lye played many, many years on the PGA Tour and he even played with us once. And we’ll never do that again.  


Pete: He saw you hit a record 15 houses on 18 fairway.  


Craig: Fiddlesticks. Yeah. Mark Lee, welcome. It’s good to talk to you again. How are you, Mark?  


Mark: I’m pleased that I distinguish the rest of the play. Okay. Yeah. Okay. All right. Well, people getting the wrong idea. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Hey, man, I was building all this stuff.  


Pete: No, no, I can’t.  


Craig: How about you? In this day and age where nothing leaks and all of a sudden the news is out and nobody knew it was coming. That is maybe the most amazing part to me. But as a former player, and you’ve seen how the LIV thing has reacted with the PGA back and forth the last year and a half. What’s your reaction now? Do you hear that they’re their bed partners?  


Mark:  Okay. So I’m not going to tell you that. You know, I spent a few years trying to get onto the PGA Tour, and there are two entities, the PGA of America, which are closed, and the PGA Tour, the PGA Tour, the mercenaries like me that went out there for, you know, 18, 19 years and tried to make a living with prize money. So the PGA Tour has always been ruthless in their handling of players and releases. You know, if Tiger wanted to go to, say, Saudi Arabia and play in tournaments. They would say yay or nay. And Tiger would say, you better say yes because it’s worth 2 million bucks to me. So I think in this day and age, you know, fast forward to 2022 to 2023.

You know, the players like Rahm and Phil and Rory, you know, these guys, the money that they could play and make every week overseas is comprehensive. I mean, it’s, you know, a million, million and a half, 2 million plus $50,000 in jet fuel plus, you know, the prize money that they win. Push came to shove, when Phil got turned down to play in an event. And also he found out that he owed his life to the PGA Tour after, you know, he played for 30 years out there and won six majors in 45 events or whatever he has won. And then he just said, you know, this is B.S. I’ve been working for you guys, which basically he was doing.

And Tiger, in some way, they aren’t really independent contractors.

You know, they call them independent contractors, but they couldn’t go and do whatever they wanted to do when and where they want to do it. So this came up, guys, and basically all the Saudis, the LIV Tour and the PIF. I don’t even know what of public investment fund or something. And then the LIV I don’t know what that means. They came up with a better plan, a better mousetrap. And so a lot of the PGA Tour kind of grasping at straws here. How do we combat that? Well they couldn’t combat that.

Well, they don’t have oil wells. They don’t have huge investments in them behind them. And they claim that they were, you know, a nonprofit organization, which to me is I don’t think they’ve ever been a nonprofit organization, but somehow they got a windfall anyway. My whole synopsis was that Jay Monahan and the tour were just completely played. They got beat at the game and now it’s going to be very interesting to see how they backtrack all those nasty things that they’ve been saying about, number one, the players. Number two, the Saudis and about three companies that have dealt with the Saudis in a big way.

And it’s kind of amazing to me as a player and a guy that’s been fairly, you know, involved in the I guess I would call it the media, you know, 20 years as a player, 25 years in the media, I could kind of see another angle to this. Well, it only happens. And I think that the LIV and the PIF and the PGA Tour, I honestly do, because I’ve seen the tour before in action for years and they never caved, guys. Not once have they ever caved. This time they did. So what do you guys think? Who had the upper hand on this?  

  • LIV Had The Upper Hand

    Pete: Well, before I get to, I want to ask, I.  


    Craig: Think lived it. Absolutely.  


    mark: Oh, absolutely. I said the same thing that the pressure to this is now.  


    Craig: If you can’t beat them, join them. I think that’s what happened here today.  


    Pete: This is now LIV.51% ownership, PGA. 49%. And I want to get your thoughts on so many things here. But one, I want to just start with the I don’t know if you heard the cut today from Yasser Al Shahrini on CNBC, NBC along with Jay Monahan. But apparently they had this lunch in London. They did not say specifically when this happened two days ago, two months ago, whatever I’m thinking a market. Did this all start to just come together once Brooks Koepka, you know, and live golfers to start to do well at the Masters, Brooks Koepka winning the PGA Championship. This put everything over the top. I’m wondering your opinion, when do you think this this lunch in London happened? Just just a guess.  


    Mark: But right after the Masters. Yeah. And, you know, three of the top five guys were LIV guys. Yeah. And then, you know, look, this game has divisive. I mean, this. This has been divisive. And if you haven’t heard all the news from the other side of LIV, like you said, I just heard the PGA Tour and the players at the game against LIV and then the players that left the LIV. Mm hmm. But I always maintain that I’m a player first. That an announcer second, you know? Mm hmm. If I were a player with the same type of proposition that the LIV gave these guys, there was no question which way I would have gone. I would have gone for financial security and all of that because the PGA Tour Vision fund. Mm hmm. Absolutely none. Ask Connor Mahan  as these guys on the outside looking in the shoulder here is the world been pretty good players maybe weren’t quite a lot of times looking for a job and they got to get on the Korn Ferry. You know, there’s nothing after that, guys. They got to wait till 15 before their pension starts kicking in. And they are basically off the planet unless they want to go to the Canadian tour or the Korn Ferry or whatever. So I know a guy like Harold Varner, who is a just a stud of a guy. He said, you know, 35 million. Are you kidding me? I got to go for this. Yeah, I could be picking up range balls in two years on the PGA Tour. You know, if I fail to keep my card, I could be on the range. Yeah, you know, picking up range balls. So that’s my thought. And, you know, I just feel like the tour players were left so much in the dark. I think it happened after the Masters that had to. Yeah. Because all of this stuff was coming through.

  • Those guys feel like the biggest chumps ever.

    Craig: Mark Lye is with us, former PGA player with Shemon and  Shepherd ESPN Southwest Florida right now today, guys like Rory. Guys like JT, even Tiger turned down 700 mil. These guys have turned down money and did not join LIV and stayed with the PGA. And now the PGA joins LIV. How do you think those guys are feeling today?  


    Mark: Those guys feel like the biggest chumps ever. Okay, because the PGA Tour started dictating a narrative and just like the press does. I was a part of it. They start dictating the narrative. These guys are bad. You know, they killed Khashoggi. Meanwhile, their biggest sponsor Fed X Federal Express. You know that company that flies these little airplanes around? Yeah, they have millions of dollars invested with the PIF. I guess Jack Nicklaus is building golf courses for them over there. Gary Player has things to do yet. These guys continually bashed the Saudi Arabians and the PIF and LIV. And now do I think that Jay Monahan was a little too tight on this? Hey, he should have told Jack Nicklaus. When I say it, that big is not coming down the pike. But Jack made a couple of comments that was was Koepka is never going to be a part of it. And these guys, it left, they said. So then we don’t know what is this guy’s going to do. We know the people that have Rory, what’s Tyler going to do? What’s all JP going to do after trouncing LIV in the past? What are you going to do? Say, I’m sorry? You know what? You know, I think the guys and I went on Twitter a long time ago with this. The guys that don’t sign up with LIV right now are going to get left in the cold. And that is exactly what happened. Yep.  

  • It took the balls right off Jay Monahan

    Pete: Mark, how do you interpret this part? I know I interpret it, but I want to get your thought. PIF will be the exclusive investor in the new entity and we’ll have the, quote, exclusive right to further invest in the new enterprise, including a right of first refusal on any capital invested, unquote. What do you make of that?  


    Mark: It took the balls right off Jay Monahan because they’re used to calling the shots and they ain’t calling the shots anymore. So if you’re asking me 51 versus 49, but that little that little segment, that little sentence that you just read says, hey, if PIF doesn’t need they don’t need 51. If they can veto any decision, look, this is only going to come out. I do know for a fact. Okay. I heard Stuart Sink this morning on co-host of Sirius XM. It’s a PGA Tour channel. You know, Sink he’s been think has been a guy that’s been in the know he’s been on the board. He’s done a lot of things with PGA, 26 years old. He’s just qualified for the U.S. Open again. And he says we were all lambasted, we are all flawed. We had no idea this was going down. And he said, I am 50% for 50% of this against. I feel like I’ve been taken advantage of by this narrative that they’ve been throwing and all of a sudden this. Now what do we do? So I feel like the players had no clue this was going on the board. There’s maybe what, three players on the board or four players on the board and a lot of other people. But to me, if this was down to a vote on the PGA Tour players versus the LIV, I would say the players would have turned it down. That’s what I think. But but that’s the way it’s always been, guys. The PGA Tour as an organization and part of media has always called all the shots.  


    Craig: Now, Mark, moving forward, we have very few details. We just have this announcement and no details. What’s your best guess? Do you envision tournaments with cuts, guaranteed payouts on everything or players going back and forth to the old LIV courses and the PGA courses? What how do you see this in the future?  


    Mark: Oh, wow. This is like the huge, you know, can of worms that’s open because, I mean, it affects the European tour. How about the Asian tour? Yeah, well, which the PIF owns. I mean, I, I don’t I don’t see how they can join this thing together easily. There’s got to be a whole lot of work going on. And I guarantee there’s going to be a lot of people left out in the cold in this. The great players are going to benefit handsomely. The guys maybe pass 75 to 85 on the money. Those are going to win. And that’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it was set up to be with this new designated event, mandatory event type of thing that they were coming out with next year of eight, you know, 8 to 10 events worth 25 million. Only the top 16 or 17 would get into that. But we’ll see how this all pans out. Guarantee, though, there’s going to be a lot of bitching from the membership. Definitely.

  • It's going to be like Joe Biden up there

    Craig: Yeah.  


    Pete: Do you have any way of hacking into the meeting that’s supposed to start at 4:00 today, which I’m going to be fascinated with to see Monahan and the players, I don’t know, some kind of mega zoom call. However, this is going to be but you know, to be a fly on the wall there would be absolutely fascinating. What if you were there, if you were still playing Mark, in that meeting, what would be what would you do?  


    Mark: Well, I would I would definitely take notes that here I’ve been to several, many meetings on the PGA Tour in my 18 years playing just on the PGA Tour and two years internationally. The PGA Tour will run everything. I mean, they will basically say no questions. This is how it’s going to be. They won’t take many questions. It’s going to be like Joe Biden up there. Sorry. I’m just walking away from this thing. And that’s that’s the way they typically do things. So as a player in these former player meetings, I would walk out of there saying, why the hell did I go to this damn meeting? I didn’t want to listen to that crap. I have my own opinions. And that’s the way, you know, we’re kind of trained. We have our own thoughts as players as to how things should be done. I guarantee John Rahm’s got his ideas. I guarantee Rory McIlroy has got his ideas. I guarantee Tiger Woods has got his ideas. Those guys are feeling slighted. Those guys are feeling like, wait,  what happened here. So there’s going to have to be some money changing hands here. And to be honest with you, I think that Jay Monahan was offered something he couldn’t refuse. Yeah, I have a feeling he got, you know, quadruple maybe six times or whatever he’s been paid by the PGA Tour. Jay, let’s just do this. Shut up. Well, I think that’s what’s going on.

  • They were right.  

    Pete: What about when the upcoming U.S. Open and I understand it out today, I thought it was just going to be the players and Monahan. I wasn’t sure if meet is going to be involved. But upcoming in the U.S. Open, they can put out all the memos they want about what questions they want asked or not asked if that’s what they’re going to do. Any report with any sort of balls is going to ignore that and go right at Monahan and ask him about the hypocrisy of things he said 359 days ago and now. And I would just keep going, Adam and Adam, they’d have to throw me out before, you know.  


    Mark: You know something? I hate to interrupt you, but you know something? They won’t because they’ve been on Monahan’s side, all those guys. And I’ve been in the room with these guys. I did, you know, 18 years with Golf Channel covering all the majors, then seven years of Sirius XM. I’ve seen it. They won’t ask them. They flat will not ask them. It’s the same way that the normal media works. There will be certain questions you can ask and certain questions you can’t ask. That’s the machine of the PGA Tour and the corrupt golf media. And I got to tell you, you know, I lost my job at Golf Channel. I was very controversial. I didn’t get renewed. And then because I was semi controversial on Sirius XM and they knew which way I was leaning, guess what? They they fired my butt so quick because this was all part of it. I felt like I was a player first and saying the right thing on the radio was second. So, you know, now I’m seen. Okay, let’s see how they handle it now, because they’ve been trashing LIV forever. They’ve been trashing Greg Norman. They’ve been trashing Phil. Guess what? They were right.  


    Speaker 2 Mm hmm. But what about somebody outside of the golf media? Just a media person in general who’s a good, respected reporter out there and even some of the sports that don’t give a damn what the PGA is going to tell them. They will. I mean, to go at him and go at him, what are they going to do if they throw the guy out? They’re going to look even more foolish than they do right now. So, I mean, he’s going to have to answer or at least attempt to answer, even if he doesn’t. Non-Denial denial, whatever it is, I don’t think it can be ignored.  

  • If Greg Norman was up there, they'd be beating the crap out of him

    Pete: Mm hmm. But what about somebody outside of the golf media? Just a media person in general who’s a good, respected reporter out there and even some of the sports that don’t give a damn what the PGA is going to tell them. They will. I mean, to go at him and go at him, what are they going to do if they throw the guy out? They’re going to look even more foolish than they do right now. So, I mean, he’s going to have to answer or at least attempt to answer, even if he doesn’t. Non-Denial denial, whatever it is, I don’t think it can be ignored.  


    Mark: Who do you know in the golf media that’s going to do that?  


    Pete:I didn’t say golf media, but if it’s a U.S. Open, you got more than just the golf media there. Maybe it’s somebody from CBS News or ABC News or somebody that has legitimate reporting credentials. This is a huge giant sports business story that will not be afraid of anybody in the PGA media that’s going to get tossed and will ask the proper questions. That’s what I’m saying.  


    Mark: You know something? Does this not remind you of Trump? I’m not getting political at all. Okay. Yeah. You know, I mean, you know, Dennis Jay, Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour are temps. They’re not going to they’re not going to offend these guys. They’re just not it. Look, I welcome that. I can’t wait to see if that happens. I’m going to be listening. The PGA tour radio. I’m going to be listening to everything that I possibly can, getting notes on all this stuff that’s spoken. But I guarantee you they’re going to cover these guys, Jay Monahan with kid gloves. Yeah. And you know, if but if Greg Norman was up there, they’d be beating the crap out of him. Exactly. You know, how could you have possibly done this and why did you do this? You know? And if Bill was up there, they’d be trashing him as well. But if Rory’s up there, guess what? They’re not going to breach that subject that Jay Monahan’s up there. They’re not going to broach that subject. So, guys, I’m hoping they do, but I just don’t see it.  


    Craig: And by the way, Greg Norman’s name hasn’t been mentioned once today, so I don’t know what his role is moving forward. And he did a he did a lot of heavy lifting, for better or for worse, for this whole thing. Mark, it has been a pleasure of getting feedback from our audience. This is one of the most interesting conversations we’ve ever had, and that’s what I expected out of you. Thank you very much for coming on today.  


    Pete: You’re the best.  


    Mark; Thanks, guys. I hope I wasn’t too blunt.  


    Craig: No, no, That’s what we like. We like blunt.  


    Pete: I love that. Especially the castration of Jay Monahan was especially entertaining.


    M  ark: Can you understand that?  


    Pete: Absolutely.  


    Mark: It’s been used before. Okay.  


    Craig: All right. Thank you. Have a good day. I appreciate it.  

  • Here's the full audio from the transcript:

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