Monahan confident that Saudi PIF merger will get over the line

Mark McGowan

Jay Monahan the Commissioner of The PGA Tour (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

“The proof is in the pudding,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan when addressing the PGA Tour’s proposed merger with the Saudi Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour players’ reaction to the idea.

Those words he initially attributed to Jack Nicklaus following a conversation he and the 18-time-major winner had regarding the merger, and he went on to say:

“So I think players are now saying, okay, I understand what we’re trying to accomplish and why we’ve taken this step. I understand the confidential nature of what we’re dealing with and how you plan to handle that within the governance.


“And at this point, I think players are focused on their play and they know, you know, as we move forward, and certainly as we move towards the end of the year, there’s a responsibility, an expectation, from them towards me and the team that, you know, we’re going to be in a position to communicate a positive outcome for the PGA Tour.”

Monahan faced widespread criticism from players and media alike when the proposed merger was announced back in June, with many players frustrated at being kept in the dark, whilst others accused Monahan of speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

When it was put to Monahan that the merger was merely a mechanism to stop the costly and likely lengthy litigation battles that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf were undergoing, Monahan refuted the suggestion and claimed that both sides were committed to agreement and in working together for the good of the game.

“I would say that we operate in good faith and I see that on both sides,” he said. “And that framework agreement, which is an agreement to reach an agreement, put us in a position to reach an agreement.

Those safeguards that are in place and our commitment 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 [The temporary name of the new holding company], 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.

“And our teams are — 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.”

Quite what the future has in store for LIV Golf remains unclear should Monahan be tasked with overseeing the breakaway league as has been suggested in the framework agreement, and when asked whether it would continue to exist in two, three or five years’ time, Monahan was evasive and declined to give any additional information.

“I think there are a lot of questions that are specific questions that are going to come and have come to me as it relates,” he said, “and have come to others as it relates to elements of what is in the framework agreement and elements of what we’re talking about. I’m not going to talk publicly about them until we’ve completed those discussions and I can answer that question specifically and directly.”

And Monahan remains bullish that necessary agreements will be in place by January 1 when the as yet unfinalised deal with the PIF is set to become reality.

“We’re confident that we’re going to reach a positive outcome for the PGA Tour,” he said, “and as it relates to reason not to believe or believe, you know, at this point, given what Tyler [Dennis, PGA Tour President] just outlined and what I said, no, I don’t have any reason to think that we won’t be successful.”

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