As I am writing this, the 123rd U.S. Open is teeing off, smack dap in the heart of Los Angeles at the iconic and secretive Los Angeles Country Club, where a sight marker is the roof of the Beverly Hilton Hotel–you know, the one Richard Gere stayed at and put Julia Roberts up in during PRETTY WOMAN? Since that movie was made, prices for both rooms and services like those Roberts provided have gone dramatically up, so it’s probably a good sign that there will be a record total purse of more than $20 million available to those participating in this third leg of professional golf’s Grand Slam.
But all is definitely not quiet on this Western front, as this is the first major tournament to be held on U.S. soil since the shocking announcement that the PGA and LIV tours were “merging”, a euphamism that the majority of those who cover the sport have admonished as a sellout to sportswashing, the ultimate sign that money is the single most motivating factor in life, let alone sports, and that all of the saber-rattling and threats of expulsion that the PGA and its CINO Jay Monahan expressed last year in Boston was, in hindsight, little more than empty rhetoric.
So where will Monahan be this weekend as the golf world converges on an area where $25 martinis and $50 eggs Benedict breakfasts are commonplace? Well, not here, as CNBC’s Jessica Golden reported:
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is taking a leave of absence as he recuperates from a medical condition, the organization said in a statement late Tuesday.
“Jay Monahan informed the PGA Tour Policy Board that he is recuperating from a medical situation,” the tour said in a statement. “The board fully supports Jay and appreciates everyone respecting his privacy.”
The tour did not specify the nature of his medical condition or a timetable to return. It will provide further updates “as appropriate,” the tour added.
LACC is mere minutes from one of the country’s top medical facilities, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. I know this personally; they saved MY life. I can’t imagine a medical condition so serious that it wouldn’t be immediately treatable were something to befall him, and I’m sure given how many members of its staff and board are LACC members he would get priority treatment, which is far more than I got from their rabbi when I was a patient.
But no, poor Jay won’t be on hand to answer any questions from any media, nor directly respond to any of the lingering animosity that a large portion of his PGA loyalists, led by Rory McIlroy, still feel. Or offer his views on the social media posts that the suddently less readily available Phil Mickelson expressed in the wake of the announcement that all but validated his nuanced take that what the Saudis provided beyond mere money was needed leverage against a tour that had continued to refuse to offer a guaranteed paycheck to all who would play. The last time I checked, the majority of sports at least offer a paycheck to anyone on a roster even if they don’t play a minute. LIV was willing to offer that, over and above the level of life-changing compensation they put on the table. Which, as I’ve asked many times previously, if YOU were offered that sort of money, how quickly would YOU refuse it?
And he sure won’t be around to answer any questions about exactly what skeletons are hiding in the PGA’s closet about how their financial support was being generated, from the corporate sponsors with political agendas that put their imprenteurs on a majority of events, who were unwilling to funnel funds to the PGA to defend themselves in what was likely to be a bitter and pronounced series of anti-trust legal proceedings that the LIV golfers were willing to undertake to fight for that simple right to be consistently paid. The same sponsors that recognized the appeal of events that were going to be missing a majority of the sport’s best players going forward was diminishing, and therefore less likely to be generating the kind of audience that a major tournament, which the PGA reluctantly agreed to continue to allow LIV golfers to attend (and, in the case of the U.S. Open, one they don’t control who can enter or not) optimally scheduled on the West Coast on one of the longest days of the year, will likely deliver for NBC in primetime tonight. It’s quite likely they will see levels not seen since January, when they broadcast an NFL playoff game.
I wouldn’t want to cast any aspersions on exactly how ill Monahan may really be, and no, I’m not wishing any suffering on him. Matter of fact, I’m on his side. Anyone who has clung to any myth that ideology has any overriding relevance or significance in today’s sports landscape is yelling at clouds, which appropriately are covering the Los Angeles Country Club today.
Especially for a sport that is staging a major event mere minutes from Rodeo Drive, which is also quite close to Cedars-Sinai. Where an awful lot of aspiring Julia Roberts, both the person and the role she played in that iconic film, will likely be finding their way into this weekend.
What, you think that sort of behavior doesn’t go on at golf clubs? Puh-leese.
So, hopefully, the golf will be exciting. Brooks Koepka won’t have to answer questions about his loyalty to a maverick tour the way he did when he won the PGA Championship last month. McIlroy can at least, for the moment, focus on winning a title and not having to sneer at his tour’s now-demoted mob boss in the process.
Let’s keep our eyes on the action, and on that sight marker that reinforces exactly the kind of lifestyle the tour wants to appeal to, and that a majority of us vicariously aspire to. And let’s hope Jay Monahan makes a speedy recovery from whatever medical condition he may be suffering from. From my uneducated perspective, it sure sounds like a bad case of indigestion from eating his words.