Tiger Woods, PGA Tour Policy Board meet at TPC Sawgrass; Saudi PIF deal not assured

Tiger Woods sat in on a PGA Tour policy board meeting for the first time on Monday as tour leadership met to discuss the tour’s future.

The board discussed the PGA Tour’s pending agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and spoke about outside investors and alternative options, according to the Washington Post.

In June, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rummayan revealed that the tour had struck a framework agreement with PIF. In doing so, all lawsuits between the tour and LIV Golf were dropped, and the two sides created a deadline of Dec. 31, 2023, to strike a formal deal with more concrete details.

But this arrangement between the two parties is not assured.

“We continue to remain focused on our negotiations toward a Definitive Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour as our priority,” a memo sent to players on Tuesday morning reads.

“Progress has been deliberate given the complex nature of the potential agreement, and we will keep you apprised of the progress, with continued input and direction from your Player Directors.”

Jay Monahan, PGA Tour, TOUR Championship

Jay Monahan stands near the 18th green during the final round of the 2023 Tour Championship.
Photo by Michael Wade/Getty Images

Other potential financiers have emerged recently, including Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool FC, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, among other teams.

One of those other entities includes the Boston Common Golf team in TGL, the tech-infused golf league created and owned by Woods and Rory McIlroy.

The PGA Tour has held discussions with numerous American investors—like FSG—and could be close to striking a deal with one or more of these groups in the coming weeks, according to the Post’s report.

“Additionally, as you know, the Framework Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour generated unsolicited—although not surprising—interest from numerous outside potential investors,” Tuesday’s memo reads.

“The opportunity to potentially participate in the transformative growth of the PGA Tour for the first time brought forth dozens of inbound prospects… Many of those prospects moved forward to a diligence review… and we then received significant, formal proposals that demonstrate the power of the PGA Tour brand, its players, and our commercial opportunity.”

Endeavor Group Holdings, which owns IMG media, WWE, and UFC, also expressed commercial interest in the tour. But those talks supposedly broke down, which prompted a wild rant from PGA Tour dissident Phil Mickelson.

Nevertheless, talks between the Tour and the PIF will likely extend into 2024 before breaking down altogether. The two sides still have plenty to solve, including, but not limited to, scheduling, player reinstatement, and, of course, capital investment.

But interestingly, McIlroy, who sits on the PGA Tour policy board alongside Woods, and who has long been a stark opponent of LIV Golf, has come around to the idea of the PIF investing in the tour.

Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, The Masters

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods practice ahead of the 2023 Masters.
Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

“I would hope when we go through this process, the PIF are the ones that are involved in the framework agreement,” McIlroy said last week while appearing on CNBC to promote TGL.

“Obviously, there have been other suitors that have been involved and offering their services and their help. But hopefully, when this is all said and done, I sincerely hope that the PIF is involved, and we can bring the game of golf back together.”

Golf has never been as divided as it is today, and an opportunity exists among PGA Tour leadership and the PIF to bridge that gap.

Yet, plenty of differences still need to be resolved.

That said, Monday’s meeting in Ponta Vedra Beach, Florida, was somewhat productive.

Patrick Cantlay, who currently serves as Player Director of the board, was approved to serve in this capacity through 2026.

Other players on this board include Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, Webb Simpson, McIlroy, and Woods. Adam Scott also serves in a leadership capacity.

Then, Ed Herlihy, a mergers and acquisitions attorney who helped negotiate the initial framework agreement with PIF, will continue to serve as Policy Board Chairman through 2027.

The Tour also announced that Joe Gorder, the Executive Chairman of Valero Energy Corporation, will join the PGA Tour Policy Board.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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