Rory McIlroy might be calling for the PGA Tour and the PIF (who bankroll LIV Golf) to strike up a deal but Jordan Spieth feels a Saudi Arabian influence is no longer needed after the PGA Tour announced a $3billion deal with Strategic Sports Group on Wednesday.
Spieth feels the investment made by SSG means that the PGA Tour doesn’t need to rely on the finances of the PIF and fired a warning towards any LIV Golf players who want to return Stateside.
This is of course an entirely different view to McIlroy who admitted he changed his tune on LIV when calling for the players on the Saudi backed tour to be allowed back to the PGA Tour without punishment.
Talks are still ongoing regarding a merger agreement and to see what the Saudi PIF can add to the partnership struck up between the PGA Tour and SSG. Spieth feels the PGA Tour is back in a position of strength and may not need a PIF cash influx.
“I think from where I sit, which is hopefully representing our entire membership, it matters how they feel about the entire situation. And then, you know, at this point if the PIF were interested in coming in on terms that our members like and/or the economic terms are at or not beyond SSGs and they feel it would be a good idea, I think that’s where the discussions will start,” explained the three-time major winner.
“I understand it could take some time to even come to those kind of terms, and then beyond that the Department of Justice and a regulatory review would be intact.
“It would be a timely situation, but I’m not sure of the level necessarily of the importance because it will be up to our members to figure that out.”
“I think the coolest thing about it is the players are now owners. So not only do they benefit with the Tour, they now are equity owners so they want to push it themselves, they want to make the product better themselves. Not that they didn’t before, but you directly benefit from owning a piece. So I think that part is maybe the coolest part of the funding,” continued Spieth.
“Obviously having some big guns behind us, some backup and the strategery that this group offers was actually something that was very important when we were looking at it. So to have I think it’s like 200 years of sports owning experience, the idea they can help navigate in our future how content will be consumed when our next media deals are up, stuff like that, to have these partners in perpetuity, I don’t think that can be overlooked. You talk about the funding, but really the strategies that they can have in navigating that space will be very important.”
The American hopes that this partnership will mend any bridges that need to be mended between fans, sponsors and players.
“I’m not a typical fan so it’s hard for me to speak on their behalf, but I would say that the idea that there’s been any kind of negativity within our membership, within fan base, sponsors, whatever that may be, I hope that this starts to turn the corner and recognize that we’re in a place where we could be better than we’ve ever been as a tour.
“It’s the premier place to play professional golf and these partners will help us continue to make it that way and will have some impact while the membership will still have the majority of the impact on what that can look like going forward.
“The fact that it will be collective and very up front, very — they want to talk to us, they want to know what we want to know, we want to know what they can do. As just the talent, we can only go so far just playing golf.
“I think that it should be extremely positive at this point that the ship’s turning and it can only go on the right way from here.”