The topic of suspensions and fines has always been a tricky one for the PGA Tour and its members. Is Phil Mickelson currently suspended? Was Dustin Johnson suspended back in 2014?
You would never know the truth by listening directly to the PGA Tour, mainly because the PGA Tour doesn’t publicize those types of decisions. The decisions are made, rest assured. They’re referred to constantly as “disciplinary decisions.” They just are not made publicly. When a Tour player cusses on a broadcast, rest assured they’ll be fined. They’ll know it. Their agents will know it. Other players on Tour likely will hear about it. But likely none of it will leak out. That’s the operation, and Rory McIlroy would like to change it.
Speaking with media Tuesday morning before this week’s Players Championship, McIlroy was asked to give Tour commissioner a letter grade for his performance in the leadership role. He was quick to compliment the commish but did offer up one area where the Tour has room for improvement:
“I think the one thing that the Tour in general could do a better job at is transparency,” McIlroy said. “Whether that be with — yeah, just with everything. I think transparency and maybe it not being as closed a shop. I’ve always felt that a few of the bans or suspensions, I think that should all be announced. I think that should be more transparent. I’ve always said that.”
McIlroy is one of the most famous golfers in the world, one of the most-respected voices on Tour, and a preeminent player for making changes to the Tour now that he has risen into a position on the Player Policy Board. That followed a stint as the chairman of the PGA Tour Advisory Council where McIlroy was baptized into the inner-workings of the sports league. All the while he has developed a strong and important relationship with Monahan. Which means one thing: his words land with a bit more of a thud, and in this case, it landed right on Monahan’s desk during his press conference.
Within an hour of Rory’s thoughts, Monahan took the stage on his own. When asked about McIlroy’s comments, he seemed a bit surprised.
“He just said that?” Monahan asked Rex Hoggard of the Golf Channel.
“I would say — effective immediately — Rory McIlroy is suspended. [laughs]”
It was the lightest moment of an otherwise intense press conference wherein Monahan was asked constantly about the state of the Tour, and in particular if Mickelson has been suspended. “He stepped away on his own accord, and he’s asked for time,” Monahan said. “He’s been given that time. We don’t comment on disciplinary matters, potential matters or actual matters. But every player is accountable for their actions out here.”
If you’re looking for clarity beyond that, you won’t be getting it. The reporter who asked the question literally started it with “it doesn’t seem very clear.” But that’s the Tour’s protocol. Could it change, though? McIlroy hopes so.
“That’s something I’m sure they’re working on and have constant dialogue in,” he said. The fact that McIlroy brought it up is grounds enough, according to Monahan, for a further discussion, too.
“That’s something that has been raised in the past,” Monahan said. “And if that’s something that a member of our board feels strongly about, rest assured it’s a conversation we’ll have with our Player Advisory Council and ultimately our board. That’s the way the system works.
“It’s a criticism that has been lobbied against the PGA Tour through the years, and I think we always have to be open to evolving. That’s something that we are open to.”
McIlroy was fined at least once in the past, and we know about it because he talked about it. Back in 2015, when McIlroy infamously whipped a 3-iron into the lake at Doral, he received a fine of just $5,000. We say just $5,000 because it could have been $25,000 if McIlroy didn’t apologize for the act in a post-round interview. Until he gets his way on publicizing this info for every player, we’ll all just have to hope those receiving the discipline are as open with it as McIlroy was.