PGA players will have vote on deal with Saudis
Published 12:08 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023
DETROIT (AP) — The PGA Tour sought to assure players Tuesday that they will have a say in the tour’s new partnership with the Saudi funders of LIV Golf, with its policy board issuing a statement that noted players would have to approve any final agreement between the once-rival tours.
The statement was released after a meeting of the board, which includes five players: Patrick Cantlay, Rory McIlroy, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati and Webb Simpson.
On Monday night, media outlets including The Associated Press obtained the tour’s framework agreement with the Saudis, which said the PGA Tour and European tour would work with their new partners to decide how defectors to LIV Golf can return and what kind of punishment they should face.
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Players have been frustrated by the lack of details in the framework agreement, which was negotiated in secret by Commissioner Jay Monahan, two independent board members and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. As part of the deal, the tour and the Saudis agreed to dismiss all pending lawsuits.
“Entering the framework agreement put an end to costly litigation. Management, with input from our player directors, has now begun a new phase of negotiations to determine if the tour can reach a definitive agreement that is in the best interests of our players, fans, sponsors, partners, and the game overall,” the statement said.
“If future negotiations lead to a proposed agreement, it would need approval by the tour’s policy board, which includes player directors. In the meantime, we are all committed to the safeguards in the framework agreement that ensure the PGA Tour would lead and maintain control of this potential new commercial entity,” the statement continued.
The board met Tuesday ahead of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which many top players are skipping after a busy stretch that included the U.S. Open and last week’s Travelers Championship, one of the new designated events on the tour schedule with a $20 million purse. McIlroy and Cantlay are not in the field at Detroit Golf Club.
The framework agreement calls for the tour and the Saudis to form a new commercial entity, known for now only as “NewCo.” It includes assurances that the tour would keep a controlling interest in that entity.
The deal has attracted the attention of Congress, with the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations set to hold a hearing on July 11. Monahan has been invited to testify, but his availability is in question because he is on leave while dealing with a “medical situation.”