As invading Russian forces continue to shell Ukraine, PGA Tour commissioner began his Tuesday presser at TPC Sawgrass with a series of statements, including one of the Tour’s efforts to support Ukrainian citizens impacted by the crisis.
“Before I open things up for questions, I did want to take a moment to realize what’s happening overseas right now in Ukraine,” Monahan began. “Our hearts go out to the people of Ukraine and those caught in the crosshairs of the conflict. We hope for an end to the senseless violence and a peaceful resolution. I believe Jon Rahm shared some thoughts with you already in his press conference about our Golfers For Ukraine effort. The PGA Tour is proud to join this industry-wise initiative to provide financial support and awareness for the crisis.
“At golfersforukraine.com the industry is collecting donations for UNICEF, a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and development aid to children impacted by this crisis. The PGA Tour and many others have already made donations, and we are encouraging support from the broader golf ecosystem. … The game of golf has an incredible way of rallying around causes that really matter, and this is one.”
Currently, the website has raised $225,565 in relief aid. Monahan added that blue and yellow ribbons would be available for players and officials to wear during this week’s Player Championship, and he was already donning one on his jacket.
Monahan was later asked about some of Tour’s sponsors that have continued to do business in Russia. Across the globe, corporations and governments have severed ties with the aggressing country. Last week, the R&A said it would deny entries from Russian golfers into its championship qualifiers, and President Biden announced earlier Tuesday morning that the U.S. would implement a ban on Russian oil.
The commissioner said he has not had conversations with those sponsors.
“I think when you look at the partners that we have on the PGA Tour, every single partner is heartbroken by what’s happening in Ukraine and every single partner of ours shares the same values,” Monahan said. “This is happening in real time, and I suspect that all of our partners, as they’ve done in the past, they will do the right thing. I firmly believe that. Everybody is going through their own processes right now, but ultimately that’s my very strong belief. Not having a lot of conversations, but just knowing how the companies we work with, the leaders there, how they operate.”
Justin Thomas was asked a similar question, but declined to elaborate.
“I have no thoughts,” Thomas said, “and no, I haven’t spoken to the Tour about it.”
Rory McIlroy admitted he wasn’t as knowledgable about the “geopolitical stuff,” but he did offer some thoughts.
“I think what’s going on in Ukraine is absolutely horrible,” McIlroy said. “I think everyone would agree with that. It’s absolutely brutal. It’s sad. It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening to that country and those people and the families. It’s something that I don’t understand. It’s certainly, like my knowledge on geopolitical stuff is very low, but I just think from just a human side of things, it’s just horrible what’s going on.
“I’m sure Jay is in here in an hour or so and he’ll be able to speak more on that and the business side of things, but I’ve seen a lot of companies pull back. I saw Shell today is not going to buy Russian oil. I think at this point it’s only the right thing to do. I think that international community has to come together and, I guess, do whatever they can to – I don’t know if they can stop it or make it more difficult or whatever it is, but it’s horrendous what’s going on, and I think everyone can agree with that.”
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Added Jon Rahm: “It’s hard to see, honestly. I think I saw some news that they might be targeting or not, but they’re bombing schools in Ukraine, which to me is absolutely ludicrous. I don’t know what goes through a human being’s mind to be doing that at this day and age really. I don’t know. I can’t rationalize it in my head, but it’s happening, and hopefully they can find a solution soon. But it’s sad, honestly. It’s really sad. Those people in Ukraine right now need help because through no fault of their own they’re going through what they’re going through.
“Luckily the PGA Tour and some of the golf industries are working on something to support that, which I think a lot of us might jump on, but hoping they can find at least a way to maneuver it because it’s a lot of innocent people that shouldn’t be going through this. Nobody should, but – I really am at a loss for words every time I think about it because I can’t believe it honestly.
“I have a hard time believing what goes through Putin’s mind to be doing this.”