[PHOTO: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images]
The deadline is a little more than a month away and yet golf’s multi-billion-dollar question is no closer to being answered. Will the PGA Tour and DP World Tour join commercial forces with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) by December 31?
The framework agreement aims for the PIF to be a minority investor in a new, for-profit entity alongside golf’s two major tours. It was announced in a shock news conference on June 6 but is set to expire on December 31, although it’s believed the deadline can be extended. Aside from discussions with PIF, the financier of LIV Golf, the PGA Tour is also reportedly entertaining bids for investment Fenway Sports Group, Liberty Strategic Capital, Acorn Growth Company, Eldridge Industries and Wall Street consortium Friends of Golf.
On the administrative side of the proposed new golf entity, it’s unclear whether LIV’s team format could be incorporated into the traditional tours or what level of input PIF would have.
There are a lot of balls in the air. So many, that not even the chairman of the tour’s Player Advisory Council, Adam Scott, can foreshadow whether the deal can be thrashed out in time.
“It’s really hard to know if the deal’s going to go through or not,” Scott said on Wednesday at the Australian PGA Championship. “As everyone knows, there’s four or five other interested parties in investing in the PGA Tour like PIF. Management have a lot of work to do to get some final deals on the table, so the board can have a look at it and see if there’s a deal that is good for everyone.”
That management will no longer be able to lean on Rory McIlroy, whose November 8 resignation from the PGA Tour’s policy board was several months in the making, Scott says. World No.2 McIlroy explained at last week’s DP World Tour Championship he left the PGA Tour’s policy board because “it just got to the point where I couldn’t fit it all in”.
“I mean, I guess [I am] somewhat surprised,” Scott said of McIlroy’s board departure. “I heard that he was ready to step down earlier in the year, but he stayed in to see the year out. I haven’t talked to him about it, but like his statement [said], he feels he’s got other priorities and he’s giving a lot of time everywhere and he couldn’t give the time to this anymore. In one way that’s being responsible, rather than holding a board seat and not being engaged. He’s done what he thinks is right for him and probably right for the tour as well.”
Scott, meanwhile, is attempting to win the Australian PGA for a third time. It is now co-sanctioned by the DP World Tour and is the first event of the European circuit’s new season. The field is bolstered by names like 2022 Open champion Cameron Smith and his fellow LIV players Joaquin Niemann and Marc Leishman, PGA Tour players Cameron Davis, Min Woo Lee and Lucas Herbert, as well as DP World Tour stars like Adrian Meronk, Alex Fitzpatrick and Ryder Cup player Robert MacIntyre.