Jay Monahan, the commissioner of US golf’s PGA Tour, has said he is “confident” the tour’s proposed deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will be completed by the end of the year.
A “framework” agreement uniting the PGA Tour, DP World Tour (formerly European Tour), and the PIF-backed LIV Golf circuit was announced in June giving the three parties until December 31 to agree on a binding contract.
At his annual news conference ahead of this week’s season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta, Monahan said he believes an agreement will be reached in time due to the “sincerity” of the negotiations and rebuffed suggestions the agreement was only put in place to halt the PGA Tour’s legal battles with the PIF.
He said: “Our commitment is to move from the divisive nature of the relationship we had to a productive one, for us to be able to make a fundamental transition to our business with the formation of the NewCo, to have an investable entity for the PIF to be able to invest in that previously didn’t exist, for the PGA Tour to be in control of the future of men’s professional golf, and for us to be partners.
“If we were going to end litigation, we would have just announced that we were ending the litigation. If you saw the amount of conversation and the time that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the PIF are spending working forward from a framework to a definitive, I think would you see the sincerity of the efforts there.
“There’s an intensity and there’s an urgency and there’s a lot of work, good work, that’s being done.”
How well do you really know your competitors?
Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.
Your download email will arrive shortly
Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample
We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below formBy GlobalData
According to the framework agreement, the for-profit assets of the three circuits will be combined into a new subsidiary tentatively called NewCo. After an evaluation of those assets, the PIF, which owns 93% of LIV Golf, will make a minority investment into the new entity.
NewCo will be an umbrella for all future golf-related investments of the three groups and plans to create financial returns through “targeted mergers and acquisitions to globalize the sport.” The PIF, meanwhile, will invest in both the PGA Tour and DP World Tour as a “premier corporate sponsor.”
Monahan would be the chief executive and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan the chair of the new company. Al-Rumayyan also would have a seat on the PGA Tour board, though the PGA had assurances in the preliminary deal that it would always have a majority vote.
When asked, Monahan would not be drawn on what might happen should the deal with the PIF not materialize, adding: “My focus is on the negotiations with the PIF.
“As I sit here today, I am confident that we will reach an agreement that achieves a positive outcome for the PGA Tour and our fans. I see it and I’m certain of it. I don’t have any reason to think that we won’t be successful.”
Monahan’s comments come two months after players and stakeholders were left blindsided by the shock announcement of the deal.
Amid the fallout, players called for Monahan to resign due to the lack of transparency around the deal and the perceived betrayal by the tour of players who had remained loyal to it.
Last month, Olympic champion Xander Schauffele admitted that he and other players had lost trust in Monahan, while world number one Scottie Scheffler said he was concerned about the lack of detail on the proposed deal, including the future of LIV Golf League players’ possible reintegration into the PGA Tour.
Specifically, PGA Tour board members like Rory McIlroy were not told about the negotiations, which were handled by Monahan and two independent board members, James Dunne and Edward Herlihy. Other board members were told shortly before the deal was announced, while the rest of the tour’s players found out via the media.
Earlier this month, in a bid to regain trust and quell the anger caused by the deal, the PGA Tour announced golf legend Tiger Woods as a player director for the PGA Tour Policy Board. He joins fellow players Patrick Cantaly, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, Rory McIlroy, and Webb Simpson on the board.
The addition of Woods means the six players outnumber the five independent board members, giving them a bigger voice in future decisions. The PGA Tour said they will work with Monahan to amend the policy board’s governing documents to make it clear that no major decision can be made without the involvement and approval of the player directors.
The player directors’ special advisor, Colin Neville, will also be kept informed of negotiations regarding the framework agreement with PIF and provide any information he requests to carry out his duties on behalf of the players.