An interesting development has risen relative to the PGA Tour’s pending agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The PGA Tour has had discussions with numerous high-profile U.S. investors about providing an alternative to the tour’s deal with the Saudi PIF, according to a Bloomberg Business report.
Endeavor Group Holdings Inc.—the majority owner of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)—and Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox, Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool FC, are among the possible lenders.
Fenway Sports Group has also purchased a team in Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TGL league, which begins in January 2024.
“Throughout 2023, the PGA Tour has demonstrated its strength, reach, and value as an enterprise,” an unnamed PGA Tour spokesperson said to Bloomberg. “Our focus continues to be on finalizing an agreement with the [PIF] and the DP World Tour. However, our negotiations have resulted in unsolicited interest from other investors.”
Interestingly, at the Tour Championship in late August, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan insisted that he is “confident [in] reaching a positive outcome” for the tour regarding the deal with PIF.
The PGA and DP World Tours have until Jan. 1, 2024, to strike a deal with the PIF.
Nevertheless, the Bloomberg report notes that U.S. investors could potentially partner with the PIF too. But no agreement is set in stone.
What is ironic about these particular investors, however, is that Monahan has ties to both Endeavor and Fenway Sports Group, according to the Boston Globe.
Monahan used to work at IMG, a subsidiary of Endeavor, and also worked in sales for Fenway Sports Group. He played an integral role in bringing the Deutsche Bank Championship to TPC Boston in 2003, which then turned into a FedEx Cup Playoffs event in 2007.
From there, the PGA Tour hired Monahan to facilitate The Players Championship, and he quickly rose up the ranks to commissioner, a post he has held since 2017.
But now, Monahan is best associated with the PGA Tour’s pending deal with PIF. On Jun. 6, 2023, Monahan and PIF Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan announced their ‘framework agreement,’ which led to Monahan and the PGA Tour receiving tremendous scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers and 9/11 families.
Of course, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a long history of human rights abuses, lacks transparency within its government, and ordered the dismemberment of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were Saudi citizens, too.
Because of these facts, Congress has subpoenaed al-Rumayyan to testify before the Permanent Subcommittee of Investigations (PSI). Thus far, the PIF Governor has refused to testify.
Regardless, many details regarding the tour’s deal with PIF are up in the air, and the landscape of professional golf could change drastically if certain deals are finalized by the end of 2023.