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Tiger, Phil to join U.S. Ryder Cup task force?

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The 2014 Ryder Cup was a collective disaster for the United States — a 16.5 to 11.5 rout by the Europeans. Phil Mickelson let the world know his feelings, and Tom Watson apologized for the error of his ways. We know the story, we acknowledged our mistakes — but what does this mean for 2016? How will the U.S. Team respond going forward?

The PGA of America is reportedly collecting a panel of players and ex-Captains to elect a captain for 2016 and develop a game plan for success — or at least avoid the atrocity that was the 2014 Ryder Cup.

“The decision has been made to assemble a task force that will include PGA of America representation, past captains and current players to really dive into an open analysis of all aspects of the Ryder Cup to see what we can do to improve and give Team USA its very best chances of success,’’ PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua told the New York Post.

Among those approached to join the task force, according to reports, have been Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Paul Azinger and Davis Love III. Azinger, who captained the 2008 U.S. squad to victory, wrote a book on his winning strategies, in which Mickelson publicly bought into.

Do you think the task force will work in 2016? If it were up to you, who would you recruit to be on the panel?

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. ND Hickman

    Oct 13, 2014 at 4:43 am

    I love how Paul Azinger is suddenly the messiah yet he was facing off against the worst captain that Europe has ever had. Would he have beaten Monty, Seve, Jose Maria or Paul McGinley? I’m not convinced.

  2. snowman

    Oct 10, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Tiger and Phil seem to care not-a-lot about the Ryder cup and their records are not that great. Task force!?…WTF? Maybe a new selection process/timing will help, but Pods and all that may/may not work depending on the time/place/players. The Euros: care more, have better chemistry, and better players (at least for now). Plenty of blame to go around, but I think the Americans are primarily a bunch of spoiled rich guys that just play for money and the Euros are spoiled rich guys that play for money and the Pure Joy of smoking the U.S. in the Ryder cup. That attitude along with the talent the Euros bring is tough for the U.S. to overcome and when U.S. loses, I’m not sure they really, really care for very long. They just some home and start cashing huge checks for placing T19th (not that there is any thing wrong with cashing huge checks)……

    • T

      Oct 12, 2014 at 10:51 am

      You watch, and buy into, to much Golf Channel propaganda.

  3. Robeli

    Oct 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

    “Big Break Ryder Cup 2016” – soon coming to The Golf Channel!!

  4. Joseph

    Oct 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    There is part of me that thinks the Americans simply don’t care enough. Something has to happen to fire up the US and get their heads back in the game. Getting their butts whipped certainly isn’t doing it.

  5. dot dot

    Oct 9, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    Glad they are taking it more seriously. Perhaps competition will come first and not the blatant commercialization like this year.

  6. steve

    Oct 9, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    The people that put Watson as captain feel stupid. Now they put this task force together. To little to late. Who cares?

    • Captain

      Oct 9, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Too* little too* late. Who cares? WHO CARES!?! I think you’re on the wrong website friend.

      • steve

        Oct 10, 2014 at 8:03 am

        So they still have a chance to win? And no one cares about the Ryder Cup in the U.S.
        Right website, your a troll that adds nothing to the topic

        • T

          Oct 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

          Who’s the troll here?…You are. US has a chance to win every year, and a lot of golfers in the US care about the Ryder Cup.

  7. 8thehardway

    Oct 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Team America Task Force WILL mold disparate personalities into a tight-knit unit by 2016, such unit to be known as Ryder’s Rangers

    Basic Training
    In the months leading up to battle all RR recruits will undergo binge drinking with fellow recruits and memorize the sneers and dismissive gestures of James Bond movie villains.

    High Recruiting Standards
    Rich, arrogant pros need not apply.

  8. Brian

    Oct 9, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Let’s not overthink this thing at all…a task force? Now we need a task force to still get our butts kicked? The captain needs some pull over the PGA like the European captain has. The Euro captain has players paired together on Thurs/Friday rounds in regular tournaments to start building rapport and see how they do together. Where’s that here in the US? IMO, the players need more of a say in who plays with whom and when.

  9. gplfing

    Oct 9, 2014 at 4:51 am

    http://youtu.be/j7bnORHv2WE

    To beat the best, you must learn from the best.

  10. Jack

    Oct 9, 2014 at 2:28 am

    This is so stupid and so obvious… The US players have to play better — period. There now you don’t need a task force! Phil is a moron, btw.

    • Danny Patterson

      Oct 9, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      I agree. Also, why let these Ryder cuppers make these decisions? The best players from this Ryder cup were rookies. Phil, Tiger and Furyk, combined 39-56-13 career. Not very inspiring.

  11. Joe

    Oct 8, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Let the top 10 players with points choice the next 3 players for the team. Then as a team they can pick who plays with who and who plays who.PGA of America chooses the assistant captains to do all the standard
    BS, speeches, outings, dinners etc. Just let the players figure out how to come together and bring back the cup. Yeah it sounds far fetched. I’ll even add make Payne Stewart the honorary captain. Win it for our country & Payne’s legacy.If Pic’s of Payne all over the place can’t get the team to come together and win it who can?

  12. Johnny

    Oct 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I think everyone makes too big a deal of azinger as a captain. People seem to forget who the European captain was that year. Faldo was one of the worst captains, if not the worst captain, the Europeans have ever had. He couldn’t even remember who was all on his team.
    The bottom line is the Europeans want it more. You look at the European team this year and you could have paired any of them to play together. They get along. They’re a TEAM. The American team isn’t. Certain guys can only play with certain guys. I went to the ryder cup this year and the difference in the players attitudes was unreal. Quite honestly, bubba Watson was a disgrace. You could see by his body language he didn’t want to be there. I think his play in the opening days four balls highlighted this. Both he and simpson didn’t make one birdie between them. That’s terrible in that format. Surely the occasion should bring out the best in you. You’re playing for your country!
    It’s not the captain. It’s the players.

    • RobCH

      Oct 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      So if it’s not about the captain, the fact that it was Nick Faldo up against Azinger is completely irrelevant. Either the captain does make a difference, in which case they can logically be judged good or bad (or even, in your example, “worst”), or they don’t. You can’t have it both ways.

  13. roger

    Oct 8, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I believe it is cupitas. The Euro’s have 2 years to think about and 2 years to enjoy the victory. The US loses it and now it’s on to the Presidents cup, the next season starts shortly after the Ryder cup and now they start to think about earning points to make the Presidents cup. I myself watched about 10 minutes of the Ryder cup this year. I love watching tournament golf on TV and watch all 4 rounds. The difference is the show is on the course all about the golf shots. The Ryder cup and Presidents cup, a lot of the show is in the crowd any more, crazy groups of people in crazy outfits. We have the Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, Solhiem Cup and now they are talking about a Senoir’s Ryder Cup, that’s just way to much for me.

    • Forsbrand

      Oct 9, 2014 at 6:42 am

      Absolutely it’s gone far too corporate! Maybe the US are just not good enough to beat the Europeans. Why do the US need to set up a task force to win it! doesn’t that take something away from a possible victory? It s all a little wish washy for me.

  14. Ben

    Oct 8, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I’m still trying to figure out why Larry Nelson and Mark OMeara haven’t been captains yet. Both are easy going guys with strong personalities. That seems to be the best combination for captaincy.

  15. Mark Littlejohn

    Oct 8, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    The Europeans consider it a major, the Americans consider it an exhibition…I honestly believe some would rather not be bothered to participate at all. They have complained before about the Ryder Cup one year, the President’s Cup the next. I’m reading Draw in the Dunes right now about the 1969 Ryder Cup and it’s amazing how little thought Captain Sam Snead seemed to put into it. One solution not talked about yet might be to reduce the automatic quals down to six and have six picks for players who effing want to be there. Where the hell do they get our guys for the World Cup…none of the top players play it. They must go down the list until they find two who agree to play.

    • RobCH

      Oct 12, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Webb Simpson, who begged Watson to make him a captain’s pick, wanted to play. And how did he do?

  16. Jake

    Oct 8, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    I think we need to develop a system, sort of like USA basketball. There needs to be a US Director of Ryder Cup who’s job it is to pick the captain. I think we should get Paul Azinger back, signed on as captain for the next 2-3 Ryder Cups to set up the system. He should have a consistent stable of Vice Captains that he is grooming to be the next captain.

    We don’t need a panel to look at this, we just need to model it after already successful enterprises.

  17. Joel

    Oct 8, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I love Tiger and Phil both…but they have played a lot of ryder cups spanning many different captains and styles of management and they don’t exactly have a stellar record. I love the ryder cup, but it belongs to the europeans…if we’re expected to win we lose, if we’re expected to lose we do. Just let things go people.

  18. Jim

    Oct 8, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Glad to hear that the US might take the next Ryder Cup more seriously. What they need to understand is 1) competitive team spirit/ effort, and 2) how to motivate these rich, arrogant pro’s that really don’t care about the event as much as the Europeans. It’s not the captain but the players who can’t win a point in foursomes that’s the problem. And I heard that Phil flew over in his private jet so that speaks to his knowledge of team building. Geeez.

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Equipment

WRX Insider: Rafa Cabrera Bello swapped out his whole bag in less than 24 hours during U.S. Open Week

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I have been covering the PGA Tour heavily for almost two years and obsessed with it for 25. I have never heard of anything like this, and at 2 under going into the weekend with rounds of 68 and 70, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello may have the craziest equipment story of the year.

It’s not uncommon for a player to make a wedge change, metal wood tweak amongst a couple of other things on any tournament week—but a full bag fitting and immediately putting it all in play—on the week of a major? Unheard of in my travels.

Let’s just start with what Cabrera Bello showed up to Winged Foot with.

Driver: Titleist TS3 (8.5 degrees, A1 SureFit setting) *9.5 pictured from earlier in the year
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 6.5

3-wood: Titleist 915F (15 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Project X 10A2 100 7.0

5-wood: Titleist 915F (18 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Project X 10A2 100 7.0

Irons: Titleist 718MB (3-PW)
Shaft: Project XLZ 7.0 130

Wedges: Vokey SM7 Tour Chrome (48-10F, 54-08M, 60-04L)
Shaft: Project XLZ 7.0 130

Putter: Scotty Cameron Tour Rat GSS Newport 2

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

I had to get the inside scoop, so I chatted with Titleist Tour Rep J.J Van Wezenbeeck to find out how this crazy scenario came to be. This is nuts—especially before a major.

Here’s what he had to say

“Rafa has always liked a lower ‘European’ ball flight and very stable shafts and through the years we have used statistics to move his ball flight up slightly but he likes all his club heads to match and with stable feeling shafts – see 7.0 LZ and 10A2 fairway wood shafts. 

“During TS launch Rafa realized his driver needed to come up and moved from 8.5 to 9.5 which increased lauch conditions substantially. 

“During the 620/T100 iron launch we discovered his long irons could be better and moved to U500.

“The last few weeks Rafa has struggled and with his swing coach on site this week he realized he needed to go farther. The first look was testing LZ 6.5 in his irons. He had better directional control and increased spin slightly which was needed. 

“He was so excited about the feel and results that he said “Let’s go! Show me woods!”

“He loved the look of the new driver and after some shaft testing saw Project X Hzurdus RDX Blue 60 increase ball speed, launch and carry. The RDX Black 80 in both fairways gave him the same feel through the set. 

“This was all done Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning.” 

The new setup is as follows

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9.5 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS RDX Blue 60 TX

3-wood: Titleist TS3 (15 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS RDX Black 80 TX

5-wood: Titleist TS3 (18 degrees, A1 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS RDX Black 80 TX

Irons: Titleist U500 (3,4) Titleist 620MB (5-9)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5

Wedges: Vokey SM8 (48-10F, 54-08M, 60-04L)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5

Putter: Scotty Cameron Tour Rat Newport 2

Ball: Titleist ProV1X

He’s in contention and will perhaps be in the final group with Bryson come tomorrow afternoon. As a total gearhead, this story warms my heart and soul like very few do. I’m quietly praying he gets it done this weekend. That would be one hell of a story.

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EXCLUSIVE: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan recaps the 2020 season with Michael Williams

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This has been a year like no other in America. First, a global pandemic brought a halt to virtually every aspect of daily life, including professional sports. And then the slayings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor unleashed a seismic wave of protest that was felt and echoed around the world.

The PGA Tour was affected as much as any of the sports leagues. Commissioner Jay Monahan and his team faced the challenge of how to safely open a league that travels to a different city every week in an environment where many people don’t feel safe leaving their house. And once open, the sport had to compose an effective response to calls for diversity and inclusion despite a lingering reputation for being among the most exclusive of the major professional sports.

I talked with Monahan in an exclusive interview about the turmoil and triumphs in 2020, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how the PGA Tour will make its mark in America’s reckoning on racial justice on and off the course.

Michael Williams: I just want to start off with a helicopter view of the job of PGA Tour commissioner. By my count, there’s only four guys who have held the job in history; how has the job changed? What’s the biggest difference between Dean Beman’s job and the job you have to do every day?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: Well, I think when Dean took over as commissioner of the PGA Tour, in its simplest form, the tournaments themselves were not run by or controlled by the Tour itself. And the media rights for the events were controlled by the tournaments in the local markets. And so in essence, Dean realized that for the Tour to thrive, the tournament’s needed to…all come underneath the PGA Tour and be operated at the direction of the Tour. And in order to maximize playing and financial opportunities, those media rights needed to be pooled. And the stroke of genius back then was that as a means of accomplishing that, all of our tournaments were organized for the benefit of charity. And so you fast forward today, and, you know…we’ve generated over $3 billion since inception, and that’s such a critical part of what we do every day.

I look to the fact that the game, it’s truly a global game—we’ve got 94 players from 29 countries that are participating on our tour of roughly 250 members. We play seven events outside the U.S. You look at our domestic media partnerships with Viacom, CBS, and NBC internationally with Discovery; just the presence and the profile of the Tour is, you know, it’s truly global, it’s a global game. So managing the global business itself and the complexities that come with that is probably what’s different today versus back then, but it’s also just been a natural part of the evolution of the Tour and the game.

Michael Williams: Let’s talk about the 2020 season. Even though we still have two major championships to go, oddly enough, we’re talking about the close of the 2020 season. Given everything that was going on with COVID-19, are you more surprised that you were able to start this season or that you were able to finish it?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: I would say that I was probably more surprised that we were able to start and start when we did, just because of all the uncertainty that we inherited when we stepped away during the week of The Players Championship. So there was a period there of 30 to 45 days where, you know, you’re trying to reimagine, restructure your schedule. Given that we were stepping away after 24 weeks, we were also trying to do that in the context of “What does this mean for the members of the PGA Tour in terms of their eligibility, and is this going to be an official season?” And then you had all the safety—health, and safety protocols—so solving those three important issues or challenges, was a significant undertaking. I think, well, I think we just had a number of moments along the way that gave us an indication that we would be able to return in June…and once we were back, we all recognize that we were going to experience some challenges and some setbacks, it’s just the nature of the virus.

But we felt like we had a great plan and that there was strong accountability with those that were going to be in our bubble—a bubble that was moving from market to market. And I always felt like we’d get here, but, you know, getting back and starting that week of June 8th, I think that was the most challenging part of the exercise.

Michael Williams: Are there any policies or procedures that you’ll carry forward into future seasons that you learned from operating in this environment? For instance, some people like the look of the tournaments being played without grandstands around the greens are thousands upon thousands of fans lining the fairways and surrounding the greens. And of course, you love to have the fans there, but is there any discussion about maybe limiting the number of fans at events to improve the fan experience on the course and for the viewers at home?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: Your example is something I’ve heard from a lot of people about. You look at other sports where you’ve got empty stadiums and they’re doing everything they can to create energy and to bring people virtually or through cardboard cutouts to the venue itself. And while we have not been able to have spectators at our events, I think we have the natural beauty of several hundred acres moving from market to market. But I also think part of the beauty of what happens week in and week out is, the number of fans that we have; it just creates this incredible energy. That’s, I think a big source, of what we experience when viewing the events, but then when you take it away…you gain an even greater appreciation for the beauty of the game itself and the beauty of the landscape of these courses.

I think we’ll listen, but for us to be able to make the charitable impact and the community impact that…have had [and] that we want to return to, you know, we’re going to need to get back to the way things were. And obviously we can’t wait for our fans to come back and our players cannot wait to be playing in front of fans. But to the heart of your question, there is no doubt that there are a lot of learnings that we will apply to the business…as we go forward. When you operate a certain way for a long period of time, and you can no longer operate that way, you identify inefficiencies, you identify things that maybe you hadn’t been doing that you should be doing.

You think about what the player experiences. For example, a big part of what happens at PGA Tour events is amateurs that are playing with professionals on Wednesday, right inside the same field of play. And that experience is a huge part of our economic model. We couldn’t have Pro-ams and haven’t been able to. At the end of week two going into week three, I get a call on Monday from Bubba Watson in his RV heading from Hilton Head to Hartford. Bubba was mic’ed up on the previous on Sunday with Wesley Bryan, and they had some really good back and forth during that round. We were picking up a lot of commentary in the broadcast, and we’ve gotten good feedback on that.

So Bubba says, “Hey, we’re not playing Pro-ams, it’s harder for us to support these tournament organizations. What if we do a charity event on Wednesday where we mic guys up, and I’ll start it off? I’ll pick three guys and we’ll have a match.” And in Detroit [at the Rocket Mortgage Classic] we started it, to raise funds to address the digital divide in the city of Detroit. We raised well over a million dollars. And from that, each week we’ve held an event and our players have been raising their hands [to participate]. Just this past week, we raised a million dollars on Thursday for the East Lake Foundation. So, it’s just little adjustments like that I think are things that you’ll see us continue to find a way to apply as we go forward.

Michael Williams: Let’s turn to the other large issue of this summer, which is obviously the racial upheaval and reckoning that’s been happening in the country and all over the world. It was interesting to me to find out that you actually convened an inclusion leadership council within the PGA Tour long before this happened this summer. What prompted you to do that? Did you have a premonition that the severe inequalities in society could lead to the type of upheaval that we’re seeing?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: I was named deputy commissioner of the Tour in 2014, and one thing everyone talks about when they talk about the game of golf is that the game of golf is fairly homogenous and we need to diversify our sport. We need to create more opportunities within our sport. And, as an organization, we [at the PGA Tour] also recognized that we wanted to reflect society when you look across our organization. And so the question was, “How do we go about understanding where we are organizationally and how do we go about understanding how we can have a bigger impact on our game using our platform?” So, that led to the formation of our Inclusion Leadership Council, where we’ve got eight [PGA Tour] executives on the council that my office meets with frequently.

And we’ve looked at everything from our hiring practices to our employee demographics, to our messaging and some of the things that we’re doing to make sure that when we’re talking about the game, we’re celebrating the welcoming and inclusive nature of the game. And so that was the start of our journey. And Michael, [forming the council] was more an inward look to really understand where we were, and then how we could improve, how we could set benchmarks and how we could raise conversations and talk more openly and real about where we were.

And I think the most important thing here is that we’re a culture where we’re celebrating diversity of opinion, diversity of thought. Prior to 2014, and I give my predecessor [former commissioner Tim Finchem] all the credit for this, with the formation of the First Tee, we have been actively trying to make our mark through the First Tee with the establishment of 150 chapters, being in 11,000 elementary schools, and using our platform week in and week out to talk about the life skills that the game of golf can teach you. We have really, again, looked inward at what has happened in society and how that affects us. We have, as I talked about last week, we are significantly doubling down on using our tournaments and all the markets where we play to identify causes that we think will make an impact on racial and social injustice. And then how do we use this incredible program at the First Tee that makes it certain, that we’re getting into more Title I schools, Title I communities, and getting further into underprivileged and underserved communities. We’re doing good work, and we’ve got a lot more work to do. But I’m really excited about some of the things that we’ve identified that we think could have a huge impact on our game.

Michael Williams: So, one of the outcomes you announced last week is the $100 million pledge to address racial inequality. Talk a little bit about that, how you decided on, making that a part of your response to the issues of the day, and also talk a little bit about how those funds will be dispersed. How do you determine who’s going to who are going to be the recipients and how do you determine effectiveness?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: So…we returned the week of June 8-11, the week [after] George Floyd’s killing. And for us, I pledged that we were to be part of the solution, pledged to really listen and understand and engage, and try and find a way for us to make an impact. At the time, you really felt like he wanted to do something and do it right away. And it felt like it was important to recognize the fact that we’ve been doing great work and every community where we play for a long period of time. And we needed to go back to our strength. And that is to talk to our tournaments…and keep in mind, we just announced a 50 event schedule for the 2020 2021 season.
As I mentioned up front, the beauty of our model is that our tournaments are run by what we call host organizations in each community. And those host organizations have business leaders, civic leaders, and anywhere from 800 to 3000 volunteers. So they are the pulse of that community and they’ve raised millions of dollars through the years. And we felt like if we could organize, get our tournaments together and pledge to identify a cause that’s specific to their market that they believe can make an impact. And then they make a commitment to, not only raise funds, but to engage with and celebrate those organizations as we go forward. That is us doing what we’ve always done, applying what we do exceedingly well towards the issue of racial and social injustice. And all of our tournaments very quickly raised their hands and said, “we’re on board and we’re going to get to work.” And so that’s an important part of how we felt like we could make a difference. You know, every market has different organizations and is in a different state; you’re going to get different perspectives on what needs to be done. And we felt being “local” with the organizations was the right way to go about it as one of the things that we’re doing.

Michael Williams: And I’ve heard that it’s minimum $100 million who doesn’t necessarily need to stop there. I want to ask is about the players themselves. I always think of it as around a hundred different sort of little mini teams in a league. When it comes to messaging on social issues such as this, does it make your job more difficult that you have to manage a hundred “teams” rather than an NFL or an NBA, which has more of an actual team structure and may be a little bit more coordinated in how they message to the public?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: Well, our players are independent contractors. And when you look at the PGA Tour, you’re really looking at about, on average 250 members. I would say that, because our players are independent contractors and, given the nature of our sport, which is so philanthropic-minded, so civic-minded…a lot of our players very early on in their careers, once they start to achieve success, and really success starts when you become a member of the PGA Tour, a large number of our players have either formed their own foundations or are aligned with an organization. And they’re making that their life’s work. You couple that with what we [at the Tour] do each week. There’s so many different causes that we support and our players know that one of the beauties of playing in that event is that they’re going to be contributing to making an impact in that in the community.

So I think one of the opportunities that we have is that we’ve got a great working relationship with our players and our players expect and understand that we’re going to identify the causes that are going to help society, help the game, help this organization. And because it’s tied back to our tournaments, they provide incredible support and they’re the reason that we’re able to make that impact. So our players are spending a large amount of their time helping others, and they’re doing it when they’re at home, they’re doing it at tournaments. And when they sign up Friday night at five o’clock the week prior to an event, every one of those players is contributing to a massive charitable and economic impact in every community where we play.

But going back to your question, I think complex societal issues become complex for every business. And what we try to do is communicate and make sure that we’re engaging our players in dialogue, that our players are comfortable talking to us and reaching out to us and sharing their thoughts on issues, sharing their thoughts on what they think can be done. And I’d like to think that there’s a lot of confidence that from them, that they know we’re going to distill that into the right set of actions.

Michael Williams: Tiger Woods is arguably the most influential player in history, which makes him certainly the most influential player of color in history. Have you discussed with him directly and personally his role in implementing the tour’s diversity and inclusion mission?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: You know, I talk to Tiger about all facets of our business, facets of the game, and he has a world view that’s very valuable to me. And it’s just fun to engage him in dialogue on really any subject. But when you look at Tiger, you go back to 1996, 1997. Tiger, his dad and his family came together and said that providing educational opportunities and providing access to STEM learning was going to be his life’s work. And since that point in time, he has built the TGR Learning Lab out in Anaheim. He has two other physical facilities, and I think 165,000 kids have gone through the program.

Something north of 5,000 teachers have been trained on STEM through their curriculum, trained and certified. And just this past year, I think 114 Earl Woods scholarships were given out—four-year scholarships for first-generation college students, 98% of whom are minorities. You look at the tournaments he hosts, from the Genesis Open to the Hero World Challenge. The amount of time he has given to supporting that work, the amount of financial resources he has provided, his level of engagement in the lives of these kids and knowing where they are and how he can help is…It’s absolutely remarkable. And, you know, there are times when I hear he gets criticized for not being more vocal on issues. And I think everybody handles differently, and their ability to know how they want to talk about how they want to be engaged…we’re all different.

We all have different comfort levels. The level of action he has put into helping others is the thing that I focus on. And he continues to do it in ways that people don’t see—that I just find to be absolutely remarkable. I know other athletes, you know, the likes of LeBron and others have done incredible work. But Tiger is Tiger. As far as I’m concerned, he has done more than anybody else over an extended period of time that I’ve seen. And it’s something that we’re proud to support.

Michael Williams: Did he ever talk to you about doing any sort of PSA or something like that? Literally speaking into a microphone about the issues and his feelings on them?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: We talk about a lot of things. And as you can imagine with, with all of our players, part of the beauty of being able to have a dialogue and discussion and, and get candid feedback on any number of subjects is that I can use that information to shape how we’re going to continue to evolve as a business, but those conversations are conversations obviously that I keep between myself and the athletes. I’ve talked to him about every subject you can imagine as I have with so many of our players,

Michael Williams: Well, we look forward to being privy to some of those conversations and, at some point in the future, seeing the result of them. One of the things I tell people about the game is that it’s one of the most, uh, prejudice-free environments that I’ve ever run across. But still there are moments that inform me and let me know about the homogenous nature of the game that you talked about before. They’re the outliers and the exceptions, but they do exist. Is there a moment or an incidence of racism that you have seen personally in your career or in your personal life that affects and informs your work decisions and your personal positions on issues of race and inclusion?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, outside of Boston, and went to the public school system there. And, as I’ve made my way through life, like so many unfortunately have, I have seen…racism. And I know the difference between right and wrong and that shapes the way I think and the way I lead and the way I try and apply myself to the work I do. And I mean, we’ve all experienced it in our own personal lives. And I think in today’s day and age, where we have with phones and digital platforms and the ubiquitous nature of media, everyone has seen what has happened over the last several months. So I’d just say for us as an organization, it comes down to what can you do in the role that we’re in to make a positive impact on our communities and on the game itself. But I think your question is, have seen or experienced racism in my life? I have.

I think the things in particular that have struck me are my black colleagues, my black friends, and the stories that they’ve told me. People share with you the way that they’ve been affected…and because you care, you know…I think life is all about caring for others. When people you love and people you work with and people that you think you fully know, start to share with you ways that they’ve been affected that you didn’t know before…that’s what shakes you. I think those are the most powerful moments. And I think that it’s taken tremendous courage from my colleagues and friends to tell me some of those stories. And I continue to learn from others that are telling their stories, those that I don’t know. And that’s part of, that’s part of how we work through this really challenging time, to try and really listen to what others are saying, others that are impacted ways that, candidly, I have not been. I feel like as a human being, I feel connected and I feel inspired to try and help make a difference.

Michael Williams: Last question: Put yourself 10 years into the future. If the efforts that you’re implementing and embarking on now are successful, what will it look like 10 years, 10 years from now, what will be, what will be different and significantly changed?

Commissioner Jay Monahan: First of all, I’d say that as a game, you’ve got the PGA Tour, you have the LPGA Tour, then you have the four major championship organizations, the PGA of America, 29,000 teaching professionals that they represent that run the PGA Championship, Augusta National with the Masters, USGA with U.S. men’s and Women’s Open…the R&A with the…men’s and women’s Open Championship…

I think as a sport it’s a matter of us [PGA, R&A, USGA, PGA Tour, LPGA, Masters] all working together to make an impact on our industry. But from my standpoint, I would just see us be one, being in a position where we can talk market to market about the impact that we’ve had on racial and social injustice through organizations, financial efforts, and in terms our engagement.

I think for the First Tee, it’s a matter of continuing to address some of the disparities or barriers, getting into more underprivileged, underserved communities, and putting young kids on a path where they can either continue to play the game or ultimately continue to want to be in the game and pursue careers in the game. As much success as we’ve had, I think that’s going to be an important part of our evolution. We have supported the Advocate’s Professional Golf Association since 2013. We’re now going to be working with the APGA to identify the top five black college golfers coming out of HBCUs. We’re going to provide them with access and sponsorship to play on the APGA and give them a path to get to the Korn Ferry Tour qualifying school.

And then we’re going to take the great resources we have at the PGA Tour Performance Center and give these players the best instruction that we have available to us to try and contribute to seeing more minorities, more black players, continuing to evolve across our tours and ultimately to the PGA Tour. And I think continuing to see more diversification in what you’re seeing inside the ropes and outside the ropes at our tournaments and more people coming into our game is what I hope to be talking about 10 years from now. And I’m not alone. That’s what I think all of us across the organization want. You know, we’ve been restricted with what we can do outside, so they’re more and more people playing golf people that haven’t played the game before.

And the PGA of America and the professionals at each of these courses have been forced to respond in ways that they couldn’t have imagined. But ultimately, I know that the game itself is trying to be as welcoming and inclusive as possible…we want everybody playing this game. It’s such a great game, and that’s going to be a big part of how we’re going to be looked upon 10 years from now—what we did with this opportunity that we had.

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Tour Photo Galleries

Interesting photos from the 2020 Safeway Open

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After a long three-day offseason, the PGA Tour is finally back to kick off the 20-21 campaign. GolfWRX photographer is on-site and snapped some interesting pics most notably the new Titleist TSi metal woods.

Let’s see what got!

Slowly but surely new Cleveland/Srixon product infiltrates the tour staff. Word is, the new Srixon irons and Cleveland wedges have had rave reviews across the board and those that have had times to test have put them in quickly.

Charl Schwartzel becomes the newest P Series convert. The former Masters champion who has a reputation for being extremely meticulous swapped out his custom Miuras for much talked about P7MB.

Graham DaLaet is back! The pure ball striking Canadian is back from an injury plagued last few years. Let’s hope he stays healthy. Guy is a fan favorite and can flat-out play.

Charley Hoffman is leaving nothing to chance.

Kizzire and Stallings gaming the TSi3 right outta the gate. Testing only started a couple of weeks ago but thus far the feedback has been it’s hot as hell and apparently the fairways are in some cases too hot.

Chappell rocking a custom Vessel/True Spec bag

Joe Kwok!!!

An in-hand look at the new Project X HZRDUS RDX Smoke shaft (which Ryan Barath wrote about here)

…and Graphite Design Tour AD HD 6 shafts (covered here)

Project X LS, IO, and U shafts spotted as well. We covered the LS here.

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