PGA Tour: Progress made in talks with Saudi PIF

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The PGA Tour reported progress without details from a face-to-face meeting between its negotiating committee and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia as it tries to work toward a deal.

“We want to get this right, and we are approaching discussions with careful consideration for our players, our fans, our partners and the game’s future,” the tour said in a statement released Saturday morning.

The meeting in New York on Friday evening involved the “transaction committee” of PGA Tour Enterprises and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund that pays for rival LIV Golf.

PGA Tour Enterprises is the commercial group that came out of the framework agreement announced a year ago among the PGA Tour, PIF and the European tour.

PGA Tour Enterprises brought on the Strategic Sports Group, which invested an initial $1.5 billion earlier this year. Negotiations are ongoing to bring in PIF as a minority investor, and there has been more activity than previously believed.

Rory McIlroy, who joined Tiger Woods and Adam Scott on the transaction committee, said the committee has been meeting with PIF representatives every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the past couple of weeks. The tour referred to negotiations as having “accelerated” in recent months.

Friday’s meeting was the first in-person discussion since players and board members met with Al-Rumayyan in the Bahamas the day after the Players Championship in March.

The tour said the committee and PIF have been meeting “multiple times weekly to work through potential deal terms and come to a shared vision on the future of professional golf.” It said only that “more progress was made” in New York.

“We remain committed to these negotiations, which require working through complex considerations to best position golf for global growth,” the tour said.

Woods and Scott are on the full PGA Tour Enterprises board, along with player directors Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay and Peter Malnati.

McIlroy resigned from the PGA Tour board last November, and there was an unsuccessful attempt by Simpson to have McIlroy replace him. McIlroy, the strongest voice who has gone from heavy criticism of LIV to being more willing to compromise, is part of the transaction committee and ultimately does not have a vote.

But he has relationships with both sides of the table. McIlroy had said he would be more in listen mode when the business leaders — Al-Rumayyan and his team at PIF plus a PGA Tour Enterprises committee that includes four SSG investors — sorted through details.

“We’re there to maybe give a perspective from player’s point of view,” McIlroy had said Thursday. “But, I mean, this is a negotiation about an investment into PGA Tour Enterprises. This is ‘big boy’ stuff, and I’ll certainly be doing more listening than I will be talking.”

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