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PGA Tour Commissioner Defends Suspensions, Says LIV Golfers May Not 'Free Ride'

In a rare broadcast appearance during play, Jay Monahan said the suspended LIV Golf players would not be allowed to 'free ride off loyal members.'

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan went on the offensive Sunday afternoon, making a rare appearance during a live tournament broadcast to explain his decision to suspend 17 current and former players now with LIV Golf.

He appeared early during CBS' coverage of the RBC Canadian Open with host Jim Nantz, opening by saying "it's been an unfortunate week that was created by some unfortunate decisions, those decisions being players having violated tournament regulations."

Shortly after the LIV Golf Invitational Series opened play on Thursday, Monahan sent a letter to current PGA Tour members explaining that LIV Golf participants with current and self-relinquished tour memberships were suspended and no longer eligible for PGA Tour play. 

Nantz asked Monahan why players couldn't do both, playing LIV Golf while also playing PGA Tour events.

"I guess I would answer the question by asking a question, 'why do they need us so badly?'" Monahan said. "Those players have chosen to sign multi-year lucrative contracts to play in a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again."

Monahan said that the best players in the game were at the RBC and that "true competition creates the profile of the world's greatest players," and that LIV Golf players continuing to play the PGA Tour would be to let them "free ride."

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"In protecting our loyal members, we can't allow (LIV Golf) players to free ride off that," he said. 

Monahan was asked about LIV Golf's Saudi Arabian backing and potential dilemmas for players who accepted guaranteed money to play.

"It’s not an issue for me, because I don’t work for the Saudi Arabian government. It probably is an issue for those players that chose to take that money," Monahan said. "You have to ask the question ... why? Why is this group spending so much money recruiting players and chasing a concept with no possibility of a return? How is this good for the game that we love?"

He was also asked to comment on a story in the New York Post about a 9/11 coalition of families which sent letters to representatives of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Kevin Na, accusing the golfers of sportswashing.

"I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not know there are significant implications. Two families close to me lost loved ones," Monahan said, adding that he would ask "have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?"

When asked if the suspended players would have any vehicle to come back, Monahan would not answer and said the current suspensions are "all we're prepared to talk to."