PGA Tour nearing investment deal with Strategic Sports Group amid ongoing talks with Saudi PIF, per reports

Whether the PGA Tour hits its Dec. 31 deadline for a merger with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment fund remains to be seen, but as talks continue, the league may be set to receive a large cash infusion. The PGA Tour is nearing a multi-billion dollar investment deal with Strategic Sports Group that could potentially bring the world of professional golf back together, according to multiple reports. Strategic Sports Group is an amalgamation of U.S. sports owners which includes Arthur Blank, John Henry and Wyc Grousbeck. 

Following its June 6 detente with the Saudi PIF, the Tour has been in negotiations with multiple entities (including the PIF) to infuse money into a newly formed for-profit entity called PGA Tour Enterprises. The negotiation seems to be heading into the home stretch with Strategic Sports Group set to put around $3 billion into the PGA Tour for equity, according to ESPN

Additionally, the Tour is still trying to reach a deal with the PIF, which funds LIV Golf. Doing so would ostensibly bring LIV Golf back under the same umbrella as the PGA Tour. This is even more urgent following news last week that PGA Tour superstar Jon Rahm signed a nine-figure deal to play on the LIV Golf circuit, marking the league’s biggest signing to date by far.

What is still unclear is how big each piece of the pie would be. Many folks are currently jockeying for a seat at the table, including Strategic Sports Group, the PIF and PGA Tour players, who, as part of the PGA Tour Policy Board, are attempting to finalize a deal that serves the Tour’s members. 

Those policy board seats are filled by Tiger Woods, Peter Malnati, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay and Charley Hoffman. Different policy board members have reportedly been attempting to lead golf into the future, though no one can seem to pinpoint who is actually in charge. 

A group of non-stars on the PGA Tour coalesced earlier this week, writing a letter to the policy board in which they demanded to be presented with more information.

The Board has recently received multiple bids by prospective capital partners that will potentially transform how the PGA Tour operates, who controls it, and who owns it. All but a handful of PGA Tour players have been kept entirely in the dark about the prospective transaction, how it will impact them and what conflicts of interest may impact the decision-makers. 

We demand full disclosure of the details and analyses of any proposals by prospective capital partners, which should be shared promptly with all Tour players.

We also demand a meeting with the independent directors on the policy board to understand the process that has been followed and will be followed going forward. Importantly, we seek assurances that all conflicts of interest will be disclosed and will not be permitted to color the decision-making process.

This process has, of course, become both exhausting and incredibly confusing. However, it appears that the PGA Tour has no choice now but to go through with not only the SSG investment but especially the PIF merger. If not, then the PIF will continue to lure players away from the PGA Tour with its billions until LIV Golf actually has the superior roster to that on the PGA Tour. 

Greg Norman said this week that 8-12 players are in the running for a few open spots on LIV. Whether that’s true is almost irrelevant because Rahm’s departure represents a sea change for both leagues as well as the entire negotiation process.

It has become clear that this was a “don’t forget about us” move from the PIF as well as a bargaining chip at the table. If PIF’s piece of the pie was, say, 25% before Rahm, that number is almost certainly higher now. But whatever the number is, the Tour cannot afford to not do it because the PIF’s message is obvious: Do the deal, or we will deplete every last player you have.

Clearly, SSG knows this and would not be handing over $3 billion without some assurances that the PGA Tour and PIF will come to an agreement at some point in the near future. ESPN noted that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will meet next week after multiple delays.


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