ATLANTA, GEORGIA | With East Lake Golf Club still quiet outside and the duty of presenting a $15 million winner’s check to a player Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of the revamped Tour Championship still days away, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan sat for an hour with media members Tuesday morning, taking questions on a variety of topics.
Pace of play. The new weighted scoring format for the Tour Championship. Playing golf with President Trump.
Monahan addressed those subjects and more during the breakfast gathering. Below are some of Monahan’s comments from his season-ending media session.
On potential changes to pace-of-play guidelines:
“We had a Player Advisory Council meeting at the Genesis Open (in February). We talked a lot about slow play or pace of play and talked about the fact that we wanted to take a comprehensive look at it.
“Following that meeting, we met with our player directors – Jordan Spieth, Charley Hoffman, Kevin Streelman, Johnson Wagner. They’re committed to supporting us as we take a comprehensive look at this subject. We’ve been in the throes of doing that over the course of the year.
“Is there an opportunity to improve? And the answer to that is yes…
“To quote the great Amy Bockerstette (the golfer with Down syndrome who made a par that went viral while playing with Gary Woodland in the Waste Management Phoenix Open pro-am), we’ve got this. We’re on this.”
On the new weighted scoring format in the Tour Championship:
“I think that fans know this is a season-long competition. It’s not a tournament. The FedExCup is not a tournament. The Tour Championship is now for the FedExCup. So when you make that transition, you have to recognize that there are 45 weeks and 45 tournaments that precede it. As we make this transition, I think you have to take a longer perspective on it.”
On the absence of Masters champion Tiger Woods and Open Championship winner Shane Lowry from the Tour Championship despite having two of the most significant victories this season:
“We are in the playoffs, and playoffs inherently bring forward a lot of volatility.
“I think what it says is that, one, it’s really hard to get to Atlanta and the Tour Championship. You’ve got to play exceedingly well over the course of an entire season, and with volatility, there’s risk. And if you don’t play well over the course of the season or you don’t get off to the start that you envision at the start of playoffs, you take the risk that you’re not going to be here.
“But I want to emphasize the fact that what Tiger and Shane did this year, those are two of the greatest stories of the year. So would you want them here? 1,000 percent. But you look at every other sport and their playoff format, you’ll have top teams that fall out early. You’ll have some things that you may not have predicted, particularly at the moment when they won those two big events.”
On the possibility of the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour playing concurrent events at the same site:
“It’s a priority. I know I’ve said it’s a priority, and I said it when we were together in early 2017. It hasn’t happened, candidly, as quickly as our organization and the LPGA would like for it to happen, but sometimes these things are tricky. I can’t say everything I want to say other than we’re close, and I’m confident it’s going to happen.”
On playing with President Trump last week in New Jersey along with Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley, NBC Sports Group president Pete Bevacqua, public liaison assistant to the president Andrew Giuliani and Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton:
“So the team of Trump, Ridley, and Monahan defeated the team of Bevacqua, Giuliani, and Clayton, 2 and 1. And it was a great golf match. We had a wonderful time.
“I played this year, and I also played last year with the president. I was invited in both instances, and I quickly said yes. We have great respect for the office of the presidency, and it’s an awesome opportunity. We’re talking about the Presidents Cup here.
“It’s an awesome opportunity to reflect on ’17, talk about where we are. (Trump) loves the game of golf, and that’s very apparent. As his teammate, that’s a little bit of extra pressure, but it was a nice day.”
• Will He Or Won’t He?
The question that will linger until his four picks are due in the first week of November is whether captain Tiger Woods will choose himself to play in the Presidents Cup in Australia.
With eight automatic qualifiers already set, Woods finds himself in a group of potential picks that includes Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and others that must be whittled down before heading off to Royal Melbourne in December.
Woods isn’t saying if he intends to pick himself but he’s made it clear that he’s interested in playing and my guess is he will play, especially if he is encouraged by how he plays in the Zozo Championship in Japan in late October, his only scheduled official start this fall.
The plan is to discuss the options with vice captains Steve Stricker, Fred Couples and Zach Johnson and the automatic qualifiers before making a decision.
“My job as the captain is to put together the best team possible and try and put together the best 12 guys. That’s what I’m trying to do. We’ll be going through the whole process of having open communication with our top eight guys and my vice captains. That is something that we will certainly talk about, whether I should play or not play,” Woods said.
“Ultimately it’s going to be my call whether I do play or not as the captain. But I want to have all of their opinions before that decision is made.”
Top photo: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. Photo: Sam Greenwood, Getty Images
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