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PGA Tour-Saudi deal

Jimmy Dunne, Ron Price to represent PGA Tour at Congressional hearing; Greg Norman, Saudi PIF governor will not testify

July 03, 2023

Mike Ehrmann

The U.S. Senate announced that PGA Tour board member Jimmy Dunne and tour COO Ron Price will testify before Congress on July 11.

The hearing, “The PGA-LIV Deal: Implications for the Future of Golf and Saudi Arabia’s Influence in the United States” is part of a Congressional probe opened by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in response to the surprising partnership between the tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced June 6. According to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) the deal “raises concerns about the Saudi government’s role in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over a cherished American institution.” 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.

Dunne, along with tour board member Ed Herlihy, facilitated the deal between the tour and Saudi Arabia. Price is currently acting as co-commissioner in the absence of Jay Monahan, who stepped down from his role following an undisclosed health issue on June 13. Monahan is not expected to be at the hearing.

Also skipping the hearing are LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. According to the Senate, both Norman and Al-Rumayyan said scheduling issues would prevent them from testifying.

“Both Governor Al-Rumayyan and Mr. Norman have valuable information to share about the operations of the Public Investment Fund, the future of LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia’s plans to invest in golf and other sports,” said Blumenthal and Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) in a joint statement. “Consistent with our subcommittee’s practice, we look forward to working with both witnesses to find a mutually agreeable date for them to appear in the very near future.”

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. Additionally, the tour continues to be under an antitrust probe by the U.S. Department of Justice, and PIF’s investment into the tour is expected to fall under this investigation.