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Saturday, December 16, 2023

PGA Tour $3 billion deal with American sports owners ‘imminent’ as Saudi LIV talks postponed

On June 6th, the PGA Tour shocked the sports world announcing the framework deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the beneficiary of LIV Golf.

Since then, this story has taken more twists and turns than a soap opera.

On Friday, another chapter was added to the saga. The PGA Tour is reportedly closing in on a deal ↗ with American team owners looking to invest, according to ESPN.

Strategic Sports Group, consisting of billionaire team owners Tom Werner and John Henry (Boston Red Sox), Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics), and Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons) are looking to invest $3 billion into the new for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises.

Interestingly, both the Red Sox owners and Blank have already invested ↗ in golf, with each announcing ownership of teams in Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy’s TGL ↗ virtual golf league.

Meanwhile, the discussions between the PGA Tour and the PIF have been pushed to next week after a couple scheduled meetings were postponed.

Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Commissioner Jay Monahan and Saudi PIF Gov. Yasir Al-Rummayan are slated to meet the week before Christmas. The initial framework listed a self-imposed deadline to reach a deal of December 31st. However, if there is any traction coming out of next week’s meeting, an extension into 2024 is expected.

Any deal with either investment group would supposedly still leave the Tour ‘in control’ of the newly formed company.

This news comes on the heels of another major development in golf. Jon Rahm, the reigning Masters champion, left the Tour for LIV Golf ↗, inking for somewhere in the neighborhood of a half billion dollars.

Many believe that signing by LIV was in retaliation for the PGA Tour entering talks with other potential investors; namely Endeavor and Fenway Sports Group.

That’s what makes this development with Strategic Sports Group most intriguing.

There has been a lot of blowback since the framework deal was announced. Many people have expressed disgust, anger and disappointment with the PGA Tour’s decision to partner with the PIF.

Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, recently appeared on FOX News where he acknowledged his plans to continue ‘sportswashing’ ↗ if that increases his country’s financial bottom line.

With seemingly endless funds at his disposal, the PIF will surely have a say on the future of men’s professional golf, whether they make a deal with the PGA Tour or not.

Kendall Capps is the Senior Editor of SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms.

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