New PGA chief is people person

Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Not everyone in the golf world knew much about Jay Monahan except that he was anointed, and then appointed, the next PGA Tour commissioner.

Odds are that Monahan knew about them.

Monahan, who takes over on Jan. 1, brings a personal touch that was at times lacking from the three commissioners who preceded him. One example of that came on the practice range a few years ago during the Bridgestone Invitational.

Caddies were in the middle of a class-action lawsuit against the tour over their treatment. Tension and mistrust were running high, especially at the sight of Tim Finchem talking with players on the range that day. Along came Monahan, and one caddie was asked if he knew much about Finchem’s new deputy commissioner.

The caddie, his eyes narrowing as he looked Monahan’s way, said a player introduced them four or five years ago and while Monahan seemed like a decent guy, he would be just like the other suits at tour headquarters.

Moments later, Monahan saw a familiar face and stopped to chat. He first introduced himself to the caddie, calling him by his first name.

“I don’t know if you remember, but we met a few years ago,” Monahan told him.

The mood lightened. Judgment was reserved.

Another such moment was in March at the Valspar Championship, where Monahan was sent for an announcement that Valspar was extending its title sponsorship through 2020. These are important deals, though they typically are filled with sleep-inducing corporate lingo. Monahan found time to talk about his aunt, Sue Rooney, who used to work in caddie registration and pestered him during summer holidays about how the Tampa Bay tournament didn’t have a long-term sponsorship deal.

Finchem, who is retiring after 22 years and monumental growth in exposure and prize money, saw enough in Monahan to hire him away from Fenway Sports Management in 2008, get him involved in every important aspect of the PGA Tour and appoint him as deputy commissioner in 2014.

Seth Waugh, the retired CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, hired Monahan to run the Deutsche Bank Championship and then sent him Finchem’s way.

“I think he’s 10 percent more Irish than I am, but substantially more likable,” Finchem said. “If you talk about public speaking, I have a bit of an advantage over him because I’ve been doing it longer. But he has a huge advantage over me because he really connects with people.

“He has this ability to say things that draw you in, in a meaningful way,” Finchem added. “If I tell a story, I give the overview. If he tells a story, he takes you there into the minutiae of what happens, and you really live through the moments of the story.”

PGA Tour

OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Course: El Camaleon GC (6,987 yards, par 71), Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Purse: $7 million ($1,260,000 winner)

TV: Golf Channel — 1-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday

Defending champion: Graeme McDowell

LPGA Tour

Lorena Ochoa Invitational

Course: Mexico Golf Club (6,804 yards, par 72), Mexico City

Purse: $1 million ($150,000 winn er)

Defending champion: Inbee Park

Champions Tour

Charles Schwab Cup Championship

Course: Desert Mountain Club (Cochise Course, 6,929 yards, par 70), Scottsdale, Ariz.

Purse: $2.5 million ($375,000 winner)

TV: Golf Channel — 4-7 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 4-6:30 p.m. Saturday, 12:30-3 p.m. Sunday

Defending champion: Billy Andrade