Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, remains adamant a deal will be completed between his organisation and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund despite a backdrop of scepticism. Monahan revealed an “intensity and urgency” to talks as the 31 December deadline to turn a framework agreement into binding contracts draws closer.
The June announcement that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF will align under a new commercial entity stunned golf. An important element of that move ended litigation between golf’s traditional tours and the Saudis, who have marched into the sport via LIV.
Monahan contests any notion the framework agreement was only put in place to halt those costly legal cases. “We operate in good faith and I see that on both sides,” he said.
“Our commitment is to moving 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 NewCo, to have an investable entity for PIF to believe 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 the 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 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.”
Intriguingly, the commissioner would not clarify whether or not he wants LIV to continue to operate. The precise shape of the men’s professional game remains wholly unclear, including to the world’s leading players. LIV has coaxed a string of players from the PGA Tour and remains bullish about its own future.
Monahan, speaking at his annual press conference before the Tour Championship, said: “We have put an end to the divisive and distracting litigation, we have safeguards that are in place to put the PGA Tour in a position to control our future and, 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.”
To that end, Monahan has not pursued a Plan B should the Saudi arrangement fail to formalise. “Right now my focus is on the negotiations with PIF,” he said. “That’s where all my energy and attention is. I think the realisation that there is an entity that can be invested into at the PGA Tour and the uniqueness of being able to invest into a professional sports league of the calibre, quality and sustainability of the PGA Tour, obviously has generated a lot of interest.
“But, in terms of alternatives, the sole conversation that we’re having is the conversation we’re having with PIF.”