PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan provides update on Saudi PIF negotiations

Talks first began between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which bankrolls LIV Golf, in June last year

Ben Fleming
Tuesday 12 March 2024 17:19 GMT
(Getty Images)

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan insisted he remains committed to a deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) but said “several key issues” surrounding a potential deal remain unresolved.

The PGA Tour and the PIF, which bankrolls the breakaway circuit LIV Golf, have been locked in negotiations since June last year following a surprise announcement of a potential merger between the two organisations.

Both sides had hoped to reach an agreement by December 31st 2023 but that deadline has since been pushed back, with progress stalling on any potential deal.

In that time, more high-profile players, including defending Masters champion Jon Rahm, have jumped ship to join the Saudi circuit but Monahan was defiant that a deal could still be reached, revealing he visited Saudi Arabia for talks with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in January.

“As I’ve said on a number of occasions, you can’t negotiate a deal like this in public,” he said, speaking at a press conference ahead of the 2024 Players Championship. “Our negotiations are accelerating,” said Monahan. “We still have several key issues to work through but we have a shared vision to quiet the noise and unlock golf’s worldwide potential.

“It’s going to take time but I reiterate what I said at the Tour Championship in August. I see a positive outcome for the PGA Tour and the sport as a whole. Most importantly, I see a positive outcome for our great fans.”

While negotiating with the PIF, the PGA Tour has moved to strike a historic investment deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a consortium of American sports team owners, believed to be worth in the region of $3bn (£2.4bn).

John Rahm was the latest big name to leave for LIV as negotiations continue to drag on (Getty Images)

The agreement has seen the establishment of PGA Tour Enterprises, the new, for-profit entity created when the PGA Tour announced it would consider outside investment last year. The new entity is now said to be valued at roughly $12bn (£9.45bn) in the wake of this investment.

The deal had been seen as a potential dampener to the prospects of finalising a deal with Saudi Arabia but Monahan instead suggested that the deal with the American consortium will only serve to aid ongoing talks with the PIF.

“The conversations with SSG I think have enhanced the likelihood of us reaching a successful conclusion,” he explained. “When you bring in a group of investors in that consortium that combined have over 200 years of managing professional sports franchises in the U.S. and internationally, and you bring in that level of expertise, I think that that is attractive to the PIF.”

When pressed about the possibility of a deal failing to be reached, Monahan responded: “If we don’t negotiate a deal, then I think ultimately we’re back in the same posture that we’re in, and we haven’t unified our game and taken advantage of this unique point in time.

“But I don’t have anything further to add about what happens in we don’t. I’m focused on trying to see if we can.”

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