Viktor Hovland calls for Tour accountability; Rory McIlory pushes unity

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Viktor Hovland tied for third at The Players in 2023 and would be thrilled to focus solely on being fully fit for his fourth appearance in the tournament when it begins Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

But that’s not the case.

Hovland said Wednesday he still feels unclear on the current position and ultimate direction of the PGA Tour and its potential merger with LIV Golf. The FedEx Cup champion reiterated he hasn’t thrown himself into the nexus of decision-making meetings and can appreciate, to some degree, that Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is bound by disclosure agreements about what he can share with the full membership.

“I’m not saying I have all the answers, and I’m sure Jay and the leadership had their reasons to do the things that they did,” Hovland said. “I just think there has to be some reconciliation between, OK, it’s a member organization where the leadership is representing the membership, and then decisions are being made without the players knowing about these decisions, or even having the information present. Then I think there has to be some transparency between that to at least save some face and saying that, ‘Hey, we represent the players and this is a membership organization or a players organization.’ I think those two lines have to be reconciled a little bit better.”

Hovland allowed it might be his responsibility to find out answers to some of his lingering questions. For example, he was unclear how the Tour would handle the $750 million in grants as part of the $3 billion buy-in from SSG.

He echoed many of the sentiments shared by players this week and said his ultimate wish beyond transparency from leadership would be more accountability at the top, even after Monahan offered a public mea culpa at the opening press conference at TPC this week.

“At the same time, there were some things that were said that has been walked back on and then things have been very contradictory. As a leader of an organization, I will want a person like that to take some ownership and say, ‘Hey, we made a couple of mistakes, but this is how we’re going to rectify it’ … instead of kind of sweeping it under the rug, which I felt like has been done to a certain degree.

“I don’t mind people making mistakes. We all make mistakes. But I think when you make a mistake you got to own up to it and say, ‘Hey, we’re trying to do better here, and this is how we’re going to do it.'”

Rory McIlroy took the opposite stance earlier Wednesday, offering his endorsement of Monahan to push forward in negotiations with LIV.

“You look at what Jay has done since he took over. The media rights deal, navigating us through COVID, the strategic alliance with the DP World Tour,” McIlroy said. “I would say creating PGA Tour Enterprises, we were just able to accept a billion and a half dollars in the business, people can nit-pick and say he didn’t do this right or didn’t do that right, but if you actually step back and look at the bigger picture, I think the PGA Tour is in a far stronger position than when Jay took over.”

Many ills from players date to June 6, 2023, when the framework agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf was announced without even minor disclosures to PGA Tour members.

“I think some of the reaction to June 6th was warranted, but I think at this point it’s eight months ago, and we all need to move on,” McIlroy said. “We all need to sort of move forward and try to bring the game back together.”