Monahan, players meet on Saudi deal; few details

Monahan, players meet on Saudi deal; few details

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan met with about 25 players at TPC Southwind on Tuesday, his first such meeting since he returned from a leave of absence for undisclosed medical reasons on July 17.

Rickie Fowler and Tom Hoge said after the hour-and-a-half meeting that Monahan didn’t provide players with many more details about the PGA Tour’s planned alliance with the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

That deal was negotiated in secret by PGA Tour policy board directors and Monahan. It was publicly announced on June 6 before most players knew about it. As part of the agreement, the parties agreed to end all legal action against each other.

Hoge said Monahan told players that the tour hoped to have something resolved by the end of the year.

“It was good just to have Jay there in front of us, see him again and see that he’s doing well,” Hoge said. “Who knows what the path is going forward. I’ll guess we’ll just wait and see.”

Hoge and Fowler suggested that there are many “moving parts” before the deal with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund can be finalized. The PGA Tour has signed a framework agreement with the DP World Tour and PIF, which has financed the LIV Golf League the past two seasons.

When Hoge was asked if he had any feeling that a final deal might not get done, he said, “It’s a very real possibility. There’s a lot of moving parts that have to come together for it.”

“They have to get a majority, if not unanimous, as far as board and player support,” Fowler said. “So yes, there’s a lot of things that have to come together for this to happen, and I would say that you’d have to sell everyone on the idea that this is the best option for the tour, for the players, for everyone moving forward. Not to say that’s not possible.”

The deal must be approved by the PGA Tour policy board, which now has six voting player directors after Tiger Woods was added to the board last week. Rory McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman and Peter Malnati are also player directors.

Cantlay and McIlroy, who are in the FedEx St. Jude Championship field this week, didn’t attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“Some of that was talked about in calls before this,” Fowler said. “There really [weren’t] that many guys in the meeting, or less than I thought there would have been.

“I think partly it’s that there are a lot of guys who have been involved in calls and different stuff, so it wasn’t necessarily a mandatory meeting. It was more just, ‘Hey, if you want to hear what Jay wants to say and have some questions.’ Those were the guys that were there.”

Fowler said Monahan acknowledged to players during the meeting that the roll-out of the planned alliance wasn’t handled well by the tour. Fowler called it a “bummer” that the PGA Tour didn’t decide three years ago to try to work with PIF before battling the LIV Golf League the past two seasons.

“I’ve been pretty open through the process of not necessarily being against PIF or Saudi [Arabia] in any way, or where the money comes from,” Fowler said. “No one is clean or perfect. The tour has been in business with China for years. Not saying it’s right to do something with PIF or Saudi [Arabia] or not.

“If our leadership ultimately thinks it’s the best option to move forward and potentially for the future and that can be sold to the players and everyone is on board and sees that, or thinks that’s the best option, great. We do it together.”

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