Dunne laughs off idea the PIF has bought the PGA Tour

John Craven

Jimmy Dunne (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne, who played a key role in brokering a deal between the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and golf’s existing tours, has poured cold water on the idea that he has sold the PGA Tour to the Saudis.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Dunne confirmed that he personally reached out to PIF Chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan on WhatsApp before flying to England in late April where they shared dinner, cigars and ideas about how the world of men’s professional golf could move forward together, rather than splintered.

“I believe in getting to the right person,” Dunne said, sidestepping LIV CEO Greg Norman to pick Al-Rumayyan’s brain.


“I had said to Jay, ‘At some point, we need to do that. Let’s really understand what’s important to them. What are they trying to do? And is there a path between what they want to do with the game of golf, and what we want to do? Could we possibly work this out?’ That (was) the entire master plan.”

“He was more about growing the pie and interest in the game, rather than ‘We’re gonna do it x way,’” Dunne added. “They have LIV, which, at some level, they’ve got to think was not what they hoped it would be. They have the ability to align with the PGA Tour, and that is meaningful to them. And that’s it.”

So if the deal – which still needs to be approved – does go through, what exactly has Dunne et al negotiated for the future of the PGA Tour?

Dunne told SI that the PGA Tour will still be called the PGA Tour but that Jay Monahan now also oversees LIV. The Strategic Alliance with the DP World Golf Tour will be upheld while Monahan has told Al-Rumayyan they will evaluate LIV at the end of the year.

It should be noted that sources close to Al-Rumayyan have described LIV Golf as his ‘baby’, and given the $650billion Saudi war-chest is being brought to the table by him, it’s hard to imagine Jay Monahan deciding the fate of anything, let alone his own position.

Yet Dunne’s claims are to the contrary, and if Monahan wants to disband LIV, by all means he can. As for ex members of America’s tour, the road back to the PGA Tour will be decided by Monahan and the route will likely be paved with severe penalties.

Remarkably, Dunne says PIF is not actually contributing anything directly to the PGA Tour or its players. It will get “right of first refusal” to be the Tour’s investment partner, through a new company the Tour is creating. The tour will be the controlling partner in the investments.

It’s hard to know what to believe anymore but if Dunne’s claims are true, then Al-Rumayyan is simply satisfied with having a seat at the PGA Tour’s table, aiding his efforts to cleanse the regime’s image on behalf of MBS with access to legitimate and powerful business people more than happy to help while making a buck.

As for the existing tours, they will have access to one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, injecting them with much needed capital while stifling the LIV threat and ending the litigation that was becoming an unsustainable drain on the business.

So all seems rosy in the garden, at least when it’s Dunne and Monahan cutting the grass. But let’s not forget, this deal remains one that was rushed through to hopeful completion. The filings in the prior lawsuits between the two now cosy parties were believed to be damning, and those benefitting most from this arrangement, ie. Dunne and Monahan, have already proven their words to mean less than nothing.

Let’s just say, the jury remains very much out.

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