Xander Schauffele: Commish has ‘long way to go’ to regain trust

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Jay Monahan is steadfast in his belief that he is the right person to lead the PGA Tour into the future, but that confidence is not shared by all of the star players the commissioner represents.

“He could be the guy, but in my book, he’s got a long way to go to gain the trust of the membership,” Xander Schauffele said Tuesday ahead of The Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

The world’s No. 6-ranked player was the first to take the podium following the commissioner’s press conference earlier in the day. Schauffele has been blunt about his lack of trust since Monahan negotiated a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last June without the input of the tour’s players.

The fallout was swift, widespread and many believe it contributed to the likes of Jon Rahm bolting for LIV Golf in the month’s since.

Monahan acknowledged Tuesday that, “I could have handled that better, and I’ve taken full responsibility and accountability for that. That’s on me.”

He also said, “I am the right person to lead us forward. I know that. I believe that in my heart.”

Count Schauffele among those who remain skeptical.

“Trust is something that’s pretty tender, so words are words, and I would say in my book he’s got a long way to go,” Schauffele added. “I’m sure he’s got the support of the (player) board, since they were with him making some of those decisions, but for me personally he’s got quite a ways to go.”

Monahan said that talks have “accelerated” after recently meeting with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. Meanwhile, the newly-formed PGA Tour Enterprises received an investment from the Strategic Sports Group that could be worth up to $3 billion.

Schauffele wasn’t part of those discussions, which were led in part by the Player Advisory Council that includes Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay and Adam Scott, among others. Cantlay hasn’t been in the negotiating room, but he receives constant updates and is part of the group communicating those to the full membership.

“I think it’s really important that we’re all rowing in the same direction,” Cantlay said. “I think with this PGA Tour Enterprises board, I think it’s really exciting that we do have a chance to kind of start with something new and all move together in the right direction.”

Asked about Monahan specifically, Cantlay said, “Right now, he’s definitely our leader.”

For his part, Schauffele said he’s focused on his golf and considers himself “pretty uninformed” when it comes to the PGA Tour’s ongoing evolution.

“Fortunately for me, I have trust in some of the people that are leading us and hoping for a good outcome,” Schauffele said. “And in the meantime, just trying to play the best golf I can play.”

The former Olympic champion is still seeking his first major title. He has also yet to win at TPC Sawgrass, “a really big box” that Schauffele would like to check off this week.

Long considered the “fifth major,” The Players’ field this week has come under scrutiny for the lack of Rahm, the reigning Masters champion, and 2023 PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, among others.

“I don’t think it helps the tournament,” Schauffele acknowledged. “I mean, I think you would like to have those players playing, in an ideal world, but I feel like we’re sort of beating a dead horse.

“Everyone kind of knew what was going to happen when they made a decision (to sign with LIV), and this was probably the highest probability chance of the outcome, which is to have people on different tours at the time.

“I know the guys are working on getting everyone back together, but in the meantime, I’m kind of on the page of, ‘It is what it is.'”