Settling Singh case, caddie lawsuit would be a strong start for Monahan

Jay Monahan, right, takes over this week as the fourth commissioner in PGA Tour history after Tim Finchem stepped aside after more than two decades on the job. YONHAP/AFP/Getty Images

Everyone deserves a chance to start with a clean slate. How many times do we hear that ridiculous statement? There's no such thing. That's especially true for the PGA Tour's new commissioner, Jay Monahan.

The dirtiest things on his inherited plate that need to be cleaned off are the two ongoing legal battles with the tour.

Vijay Singh's lawsuit against the PGA Tour started in 2013 after he admitted using a spray containing the growth hormone IGF-1. Then-commissioner Tim Finchem promptly suspended him. When Singh appealed, Finchem not only reinstated him but also rescinded the suspension after learning WADA had removed it from its banned substance list.

The lawsuit claims Singh faced "humiliation and ridicule" as a result. I can tell you firsthand as a professional joke creator, the "ridicule" part definitely happened for a while.

Singh is not a man who does well being the butt of jokes. It seems he's out for blood. What would cut the deepest? Forcing the PGA Tour to open its books in court and show the public all the suspensions the tour has handed out. That would hit the jugular. What happens if a man decides no settlement amount will suffice?

That's where new commissioner Monahan can offer a fresh (and very public) olive branch to Singh. A big ol' slice of humble pie would make the major champion feel vindicated and give the new commissioner instant credibility as a guy who is not part of the same old regime.

As for lawsuit No. 2 ... "outside dogs" is how SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt described the PGA Tour's treatment of caddies. Back in February 2015, caddies on the PGA Tour filed a class-action lawsuit against the tour. In a nutshell, the caddies contend the tour requires them to wear advertising (the bibs with that week's tournament logo on it) without compensation. The tour argues the caddies are independent contractors wearing their required uniforms.

The case was dismissed in February 2016, and an appeal, which is still pending, was filed four months later with 168 caddies' names attached. Full disclosure: My time as a PGA Tour caddie was spent during at least part of the time frame mentioned in the lawsuit, although I have not added my name to it.

Unlike the perception many caddies had of the former commissioner, caddies I spoke to seem hopeful about the new guy in charge. The proof will be in the way he deals with this situation.

The caddies, seeing their job as a business profession, need less than $4 million per year to get themselves set up as a group with health care and a retirement fund. They want to generate that money through sponsorship using a spot on the bibs they wear every week. What commissioner Monahan can do is a win-win for the tour and the caddies.

Let the caddies have a sponsorship deal with MLB sleeve-sized patches on the bibs. Require the winning caddie to spend time with the tournament sponsor just as the players do after the event. Caddies get their compensation, the tour keeps the big sponsor happy, and commissioner Monahan gets to be the hero who harmonized the two camps.

I believe this new commissioner can create strong working relationships between players, caddies and tournaments. Everyone I've spoken with who's met and spent time with Monahan has great things to say about him.

Maybe I'm wrong about clean slates. Monahan himself has the opportunity to be that clean slate.

This week ESPN.com will drop a few items into the suggestion box for new PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who started in his new job on Sunday, Jan. 1. Next up: On Thursday, Jonathan Coachman writes about cranking up the machine to create superstars on the PGA Tour.