124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

PGA Tour-PIF deal

PGA Tour officials say ‘progress was made’ in NYC meeting with PIF governor but still no specifics revealed


Progress was made Friday in New York when representatives of the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia met for three hours in their first face-to-face negotiations in nearly three months. At least that was claimed in a statement released Saturday morning on behalf of the PGA Tour Enterprises transaction subcommittee.

How much progress and on which terms was not divulged in a carefully worded and vague update. The meeting took place one day after the one-year anniversary of the framework agreement announced by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. It followed up reports on the issuance of term sheets the sides exchanged some time last month.

The statement read:

“As previously stated, our negotiations with the Public Investment Fund (PIF) have accelerated in recent months. Representatives from the PGA TOUR Enterprises Transaction Subcommittee and the PIF have been meeting multiple times weekly to work through potential deal terms and come to a shared vision on the future of professional golf. On Friday evening, an in-person session in New York City included the entire Transaction Subcommittee and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his team, where more progress was made. We remain committed to these negotiations, which require working through complex considerations to best position golf for global growth. We want to get this right, and we are approaching discussions with careful consideration for our players, our fans, our partners and the game’s future.”

Among those in attendance at the meeting on behalf of the PGA Tour were players Tiger Woods and Adam Scott and John Henry of the Strategic Sports Group, the organization that pledged in January to invest up to $3 billion in the tour.

Rory McIlroy, competing at the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, elaborated only slightly on the meeting, which he attended via video conference as a member of the transaction subcommittee. He described it as “very productive, very constructive, very collaborative.

“Yeah, it was really good,” the World No. 3 player added after shooting a third-round one-over 73. “Definitely things are heading in the right direction. A lot of progress was made. I can't really say much more than that, but it was really positive.”

Discussions also touched on what McIlroy characterized previously as the “cross pollination” of PGA Tour and LIV Golf schedules. The three-times-a-week calls involving PIF and the transaction subcommittee, “were more to do with their investment committee and SSG, so … that's what those calls were,” he said.

“I think last night was more talking about the future of the game and the vision, and that was where I thought there was a lot of progress that was made … a lot of the things that we've all sort of been kicking around for the last two or three years.”

That’s apparently where progress is badly needed. Peter Malnati, a player director on the PGA Tour Policy Board, told Golf Digest on Thursday that the issue of reintegrating top LIV players into the PGA Tour faces significant hurdles.

“I think the biggest hurdle is just what do we give up from the PGA Tour’s current ecosystem? What do we give up? Because right now it's full,” Malnati said. “We can't handle any more players, so we can't just invite players back because we have too many players, we have too many events. Our schedule's too full, and our top players make so much money. They're telling us they want to play less, not more. So what do we give up from the tour schedule in order to create some unity?”