PGA Tour Seeks Extension On Commercial Deal With Saudis, Private Investors

The PGA Tour believes it has made enough progress with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf to extend their negotiations into next year for a new commercial deal that would include a U.S. investment group and the European tour.

Commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to players on Sunday afternoon, just seven hours before the deadline to finalize the deal that was set in the June 6 framework agreement.

The PGA Tour board unanimously agreed three weeks ago to negotiate exclusively with Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of American-based professional sports teams owners led by Fenway Sports Group.

Monahan said the tour has made “meaningful progress” with SSG and provided the group with all the information it requested.

“As we move forward in our discussions, we are focused on the finalization of terms and drafts of necessary documents,” Monahan said.

Far more complicated are the negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the financial supporters of the rival LIV Golf League which lured away Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka in 2022, and most recently Masters champion Jon Rahm earlier this month.

Monahan described conversations with PIF and the European tour as “active and productive.”

The framework agreement was to expire Dec. 31, though it included language that the deadline could be extended if all parties agreed. “We are working to extend our negotiations into next year based on the progress we have made to date,” Monahan said in his memo.

Monahan said the goal for 2024 was to reach agreements with SSG, PIF and the European tour to bring them in as minority co-investors in the for-profit PGA Tour Enterprises.

“These partnerships will allow us to unify, innovate and invest in the game for the benefit of players, fans and sponsors,” Monahan said.

Under the framework agreement, PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan would have a seat on the PGA Tour board. The agreement also included PGA Tour Enterprises doing an “objective, empirical-driven evaluation” of LIV and to determine if team golf can be integrated into the PGA Tour and European tour.

It also was to determine a “fair and objective” process for LIV players who might want to return to the PGA Tour or European tour, which is said to be a sticking point because of the players who turned down Saudi riches to remain on the PGA Tour.

The PGA Tour season begins Thursday at The Sentry on Maui, the first of eight “signature” events with a $20 million purse and limited field. LIV Golf already has announced the bulk of its 2024 schedule and $20 million purses. It starts the first week of February.