News & Tours
As rumors fly, PGA Tour board puts out memo to address players' concerns
Tiger Woods plays his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the Hero World Challenge.
NASSAU, Bahamas — With rumors of additional player defections from the PGA Tour to the LIV Golf League swirling this week at the Hero World Challenge, the six player directors of the PGA Tour Policy Board sent a two-page memo to the membership late Friday night expressing their encouragement with ongoing negotiations with potential investors.
Golf Channel reported on Friday the dissemination of the memo from Jordan Spieth, Charley Hoffman, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Peter Malnati and Hero World Challenge host Tiger Woods. Adam Scott, who replaced Hoffman on the board in January, also signed off on the memo.
“With the 2024 season just around the corner and with so much speculation in our game, we wanted to speak to you directly,” the memo began. “Since Tiger joined the policy board on Aug. 1, the player directors have been doing everything we can to ensure the PGA Tour is best positioned to thrive for decades to come. We have learned a lot, and we are encouraged by progress on multiple fronts.”
The PGA Tour currently is in negotiations with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia to complete an investment agreement by Dec. 31 as outlined by a framework agreement tour commissioner Jay Monahan revealed on June 6. PIF is the sole financial backer of LIV Golf, which launched last year before the U.S. Open and has lured several star players, including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Cam Smith.
In the intervening months, several other parties also have become involved in exploratory talk to invest in the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, with which the PGA Tour has a strategic partnership. The memo said that “these are not traditional private equity groups, as has been reported, but rather multi-decade oriented strategic partners. Each group is optimistic about the growth opportunities for the PGA Tour and their ability to help drive the growth. We have agreed that we will work to reach a unanimous consensus before voting on any proposal that either creates a for-profit entity or contemplates third-party investment.”
The memo also makes mention of a “governance committee” of players aimed at ensuring that “no major decision can be made in the future without the prior involvement and approval of the player directors.”
The wording aligns with Woods’ pre-tournament comments that the tour’s decision to enter into an agreement with PIF is the kind of action that “can’t happen again.”
Jordan Spieth hits a bunker shot during the third round of the Hero World Challenge.
The memo was delivered a few hours after Woods and Spieth fielded questions following the second round of the Hero World Challenge at Albany. Unsubstantiated reports have appeared on social media that LIV is actively recruiting more marquee names, most prominently, World No. 3 and two-time major winner Jon Rahm.
Asked about the growing chatter surrounding additional tour defections, Woods said Friday that, “hypothetically, would it surprise me? yes,” if other players jumped to LIV.
“But there's so many different things that have happened in the last 48 hours but also in the last few weeks," Woods continued. "Things have changed and will continue to change. Our deadline's coming up here soon, so there's a lot of moving parts, a lot of different things are happening very quickly. … Today's the first day in December, we don't have a whole lot of time.
“Everything is now at a time crunch,” he added. “It's 24 hours a day just trying to figure it out.”
Asked specifically about the speculation regarding Rahm, Spieth said he isn’t sure how the departure of the reigning Masters champion would impact negotiations, but the potential loss of Rahm “is really not very good for us in general because we want to play against the best players in the world and that's what Jon is.
“I know there's been some guys that have talked to him," Spieth added. "I know he's maybe weighing some decisions, maybe not. I really don't know, so I don't want to insult him and say he's weighing decisions if he already knows he's not or he is. That's somewhat out of my control.”
Allegedly approached by LIV Golf in the past, Rickie Fowler declined to speculate on what offers other players might be fielding. Players who have remained on the PGA Tour “are all trying to stay in this together and then there are a lot of guys that are sticking together,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, we're all individuals and everyone is kind of their own company or business, if you will. So it doesn't change anything necessarily. For me and where I've been, and even when I've said I've talked with LIV or wanted to learn what was going on, I've always been pretty straightforward with where I stood as far with the tour being for the tour and all that and still in that position. So no, it doesn't affect me personally or change any of my thoughts."
Would he be surprised if Rahm, a two-time major winner who in the past has been a staunch proponent of the tour, left for the LIV Golf League?
“That particular rumor? Yeah. Yeah, it would. It would be a little surprising,” Fowler said.