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PIF-PGA Tour

Jay Monahan, Greg Norman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan requested to testify at Congressional public hearing in July regarding PGA Tour-Saudi deal

June 21, 2023
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Richard Heathcote

The U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has invited PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan to testify at a public hearing on July 11.

Following the surprise announcement of the planned partnership between the PGA Tour and PIF, Congress opened a probe into the deal. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations sent a letter to Monahan, asking for records and communications between the tour and the PIF. The alliance could be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which analyzes mergers regarding potential threats to the nation’s security.

“The Subcommittee respectfully requests that you appear in-person to testify at this hearing,” reads a letter to Monahan, Norman and Al-Rumayyan. “To assist the Subcommittee's review, please be prepared to discuss the circumstances and terms of the planned agreement between PGA Tour and the PIF, how any new entities formed through the planned agreement will be structured, the expected impact on PGA Tour and LIV Golf players, and the anticipated role of the PIF in U.S. professional golf.”

The Subcommittee letter says a response must be filed by July 7.

“Our goal is to uncover the facts about what went into the PGA Tour’s deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund and what the Saudi takeover means for the future of this cherished American institution and our national interest,” said Blumenthal in a statement announcing the proposed hearing. “Americans deserve to know what the structure and governance of this new entity will be. Major actors in the deal are best positioned to provide this information, and they owe Congress—and the American people—answers in a public setting.”

Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) added that “Fans, the players, and concerned citizens have many questions about the planned agreement.”

“I look forward to hearing testimony from the individuals who are in the best positions to provide insight to the public regarding the current state of professional golf,” Johnson said. “I hope that this hearing and any other role that Congress plays in this matter will be constructive.”

On Junw 16, the PGA Tour and PIF’s LIV Golf filed a motion to dismiss LIV’s antitrust lawsuit and the tour’s countersuit, ending a nearly year-long litigation battle between the two organizations. The arrangement was part of the landmark agreement that the tour, PIF, and DP World Tour were forming a new entity together. The move came on the one-year anniversary of the formal launch of LIV Golf in London, and 10 months after 11 LIV Golf members filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

However, the tour remains involved in a probe by the Justice Department that was spurred by the advent of LIV Golf. The DOJ investigation has also spread to include other golf entities, including Augusta National Golf Club, the PGA of America and the USGA. The tour’s deal with PIF is expected to fall under the current DOJ investigation.

Blumenthal has threatened to strip the tour’s tax-exempt status over the Saudi deal, although the proposed partnership between the tour and PIF would be a for-profit entity. Should the tour ignore Blumenthal’s request, the Senator said he will use “any of the tools at our disposal, including subpoenas and hearings, recommendations for action and legislation are all on the table.”

“We are ready and willing to seek information by whatever legal means we have to obtain it,” Blumenthal said.

In response to Blumenthal, Monahan issued a letter to Congress, stating the deal between the Saudis manifested due to the lack of government action against LIV Golf. Last week Monahan stepped back from day-to-day duties following an undisclosed health condition.