The topic of suspension and fines has always been a difficult topic for the PGA Tour and its members. Is Phil Mickelson currently on hold? Was Dustin Johnson fired back in 2014?
You’ll never know the truth by listening live to the PGA Tour, mainly because the PGA Tour doesn’t publish those kinds of decisions. Decisions are made, rest assured. They are frequently referred to as “disciplinary decisions”. They just haven’t been publicly disclosed. When a round player curses the broadcast, rest assured that they will be fined. They will know it. Their agents will know this. Other players in the round will likely hear about it. But it’s possible none of it will leak out. This is the process, and Rory McIlroy would like to change it.
Speaking to the media Tuesday morning ahead of this week’s Players Championship, McIlroy was asked to give the Tour Commissioner a character grade for his performance in the lead role. He was quick to praise the commish but did provide one area where there is room for improvement on the tour:
“I think the one thing the Tour in general can do a better job at is transparency,” McIlroy said. “Whether it’s with – yeah, just with everything. I think transparency and maybe the shop won’t close. I’ve always felt like a few bans or suspensions, I think they should all be made public. I think this should be more transparent. I’ve I always said that.”
One of the world’s most famous golfers, McIlroy is one of the most respected voices on the tour, and a notable player for making changes to the tour now that he has risen to a position on the player policy board. It came after a stint as chair of the PGA Tour advisory board where McIlroy was baptized into the inner workings of the Athletic League. Throughout, he developed a strong and important relationship with Monahan. Which means one thing: His words land with a bit of noise, and in this case, they landed on Monahan’s desk during his press conference.
Within an hour of Rory’s thoughts, Monahan took the stage alone. 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 has been suspended. [laughs]”
It was the lightest moment of an intense press conference as Monahan was constantly asked about the state of the Tour, especially whether Mickelson had been suspended. “He walked away on his own, and 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 responsible for their actions here.”
If you’re looking for clarity beyond that, you won’t get it. The reporter who asked the question literally started it off with, “It doesn’t seem very clear.” But this is the round protocol. Could it change, though? McIlroy hopes so.
“This is something I’m sure they are working on and have an ongoing dialogue on,” he said. And according to Monahan, the fact that McIlroy brought it up is reason enough for further discussion as well.
“This is something that was brought up in the past,” Monahan said. “And if that’s something that a board member feels very strongly about, make sure it’s a conversation you’re going to have with our Players Advisory Board and ultimately with our board. That’s how the system works.
“It is criticism that has been pressed against the PGA Tour over the years, and I think we always have to be open to development. That is something we are open to.”
McIlroy has been fined at least once in the past, and we know that because he talked about it. Back in 2015, when McIlroy whipped a 3-iron in a lake in Doral, he only received a $5,000 fine. we say Just $5,000 because it would have been $25,000 if McIlroy had not apologized for the act in a post-round interview. Until he finds his way to release this information to every player, we all just have to hope that those who receive discipline are as open with her as McIlroy.