Monahan Trying to Rebuild Trust, Secure Funding by Year-End

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is aiming to reach a deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and at least one other investor in PGA Tour Enterprises before 2023, he revealed Wednesday.

Speaking at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit, Monahan called the December 31st deadline to framework an agreement with the PIF and DP World Tour a “firm target.”

“We’re having conversations with multiple parties,” said Monahan. “I’ll be with Yasir [Al-Rumayyan, governor of the PIF] next week, and we continue to advance our conversations.”

Fenway Sports Group, owners of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, has emerged as one of the top U.S. investors interested, along with private equity firm KKR & Co.

Monahan previously disclosed the PIF pledged over $1 billion towards the new for-profit PGA Tour entity that will be controlled by the PGA Tour.

Sources told ESPN the Tour seeks a U.S. investor alongside the PIF due to government scrutiny concerns. The U.S. Department of Justice antitrust probe now includes the proposed PIF framework agreement.

“What’s most important to our players is that they go from the model of being independent contractors to being owners,” said Monahan about the deal’s potential impact.

The commissioner also opened up about the mental health struggles that caused him to take leave this summer, shortly after announcing the PIF deal framework. From June 14th to July 17th, Monahan stepped away to address issues affecting his physical and mental health during golf’s ongoing civil war.

Many Tour players, including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, felt left in the dark about negotiations with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf breakaway tour and criticized tour leadership.

“He understands what happened prior can’t happen again,” said Woods, now a PGA board member, about Monahan’s communication.

Detailing his leave of absence, Monahan said the extended conflict took a toll. He knew perceptions painted him as “running away from a fight” by stepping aside.

“I wasn’t doing a good job of…focus[ing] on the things I can control,” Monahan admitted. “I am fully focused on the things I control. And I am a work in progress.”

Ultimately realizing he had “a responsibility” to return stronger, Monahan used his absence to regain health and become better equipped as a leader to handle ongoing challenges.

Securing a deal with the PIF and added capital injection before 2023 is his next test.