PGA Tour

Jay Monahan shuts down latest PGA Tour-PIF rumors: 'A lot of people seem to think that there are things that are happening that aren't happening'

June 19, 2024

Sam Hodde

CROMWELL, Conn. — PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan continued to assert progress is being made in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment toward unification in professional golf, but stressed negotiations remain complex regarding an ultimate deal.

There were reports during last week’s U.S. Open that the tour and PIF had come to an agreement of sorts which would be announced this Tuesday at the Travelers Championship. Those claims turned out to have little truth to them. Monahan was at TPC River Highlands Tuesday for the latest meeting between tour and player membership, which focused on updating players of the league’s current discussions with PIF along with future changes to signature events, but multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told Golf Digest an agreement has not been reached.

Speaking to a scrum of reporters on Wednesday, Monahan said that while it’s understandable the public wants to be informed of the talks, he will not “negotiate in public.”

“I know you're eager to know more,” Monahan said, “but I will go back to the meeting that we had just two Fridays ago in New York where our entire transaction committee, including Tiger Woods and Adam Scott being in person, and Rory [McIlroy] dialing in from the Memorial Tournament alongside Yasir Al-Rumayyan and representatives of the PIF. It was a very productive discussion.”

Monahan said there is “regular dialogue” between the tour and PIF, which included a call at 10 a.m. Wednesday. “I'd like to give you more. But we're, I would say to you that there are a lot of important aspects that we talked about in that meeting, aspects that would be important towards the final agreement that, you know, we got consensus on, and there are a number of areas that we recognize that we weren't going to but identify. And that's what we're focused on.”

Because of the secretive nature of the discussions, there have been a lot of rumors surrounding what exactly is going on. There is the belief that certain player representatives are hijacking the discussions, a belief that has only grown after multiple independent directors—including Jimmy Dunne, one of the architects of the original framework agreement—resigned last month. There have also been reports that certain players have asked Monahan himself to resign his position despite Monahan strengthening his power within the tour’s new for-profit PGA Tour Enterprises.

Monahan was asked if there are any misconceptions about the discussions that need to be addressed.

“I don't think so,” Monahan replied. "I mean, there are a lot of people [who] seem to think that there are things that are happening that aren't happening, but ultimately we're the arbiters of that. Listen, I understand there's a lot of attention and there's going be a lot of, there's gonna be a lot of opinions and they're probably gonna be a lot of rumors. And it's part of the position I and all of us find ourselves in is we're just going to, we're focused on trying to get to the right outcome. The right outcome for players, for our fans, for the game of golf. That's where our focus is.”

When the framework agreement was announced last June, both sides had circled the end of 2023 as a date where the partnership would become official. That deadline has passed, and no new deadline has been marked, although in the interim the tour has made a separate deal for private-equity investment from the Strategic Sports Group. While holding back on detail, Monahan did say the complexity of what is being proposed on both sides will take time to hammer out.

“All I can say is that, that when you have people, the likes of John Henry and Arthur Blank, Sam Kennedy, Andy Cohen, Joe Gordon, some people are new to our sport, but have massive experience in sport,” Monahan said, alluding to some of the SSG leaders. “In the corporate world when they say that this is one of the more complex scenarios that they've ever seen. I think that that says a lot.

“So as it relates to whether or not it's, the complexity is being underestimated, I think it's only fair to say that unless you have a full context for everything that's being discussed, it would be unreasonable for anyone to think that you would fully understand the complexity.”

Monahan, 54, is in his eighth season as PGA Tour commissioner. In March Monahan was given a vote on the tour’s policy board, solidifying his standing with PGA Tour and PGA Tour Enterprises, the latter of which he’s also the CEO.