In a swift response to multiple players’ complaints about the PGA Tour’s lack of transparency before its surprising alliance with the DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the PGA Tour added Tiger Woods as a sixth player director and made significant changes to its governance structure on Tuesday.
In a statement, the PGA Tour said the player directors and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will work to amend the influential policy board’s governing documents to ensure that “no major decision can be made in the future without the prior involvement and approval” of player directors.
“Player leaders joined together to uphold the Tour’s core principles and ask that certain steps be taken immediately, and Monahan has agreed to support the players and their requests,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. The tour also said recently hired special adviser Colin Neville “will be fully aware of the state of the negotiations contemplated” by the framework agreement, “and, as such, Neville will be provided with full access to any documents or information that he requests as being necessary for him to carry out his duties on behalf of the players.”
“Accordingly, the player directors will have full transparency and the authority to approve — or to decline to approve — any potential changes to the Tour as part of the framework agreement discussions,” the PGA Tour’s statement said.
“I think it’s important,” Justin Thomas told reporters at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, on Tuesday. “I think it’s very obvious that a pretty good amount of us were frustrated and taken back with how some things took place. You know, we were just kind of put in a funky or tough position with how stuff was handled in the past.
“We want to have a say of what’s going on because, you know, it is our tour as well, and how it’s structured and how it looks is important to us. So we would like to have a little bit of a say-so on how that looks.”
One of the players’ demands was that Woods, a 15-time major champion, be named a player director. Woods was also kept in the dark about the PGA Tour’s planned partnership with the DP World Tour and PIF until shortly before the deal was announced on June 6.
“I am honored to represent the players of the PGA Tour,” Woods said in a statement. “This is a critical point for the Tour, and the players will do their best to make certain that any changes that are made in Tour operations are in the best interest of all Tour stakeholders, including fans, sponsors and players.
“The players thank Commissioner [Jay] Monahan for agreeing to address our concerns, and we look forward to being at the table with him to make the right decisions for the future of the game that we all love. He has my confidence moving forward with these changes.”
Thomas praised his friend Woods for wanting to still be an active part in furthering the PGA Tour.
“He takes the future of the PGA Tour very seriously, and he wants it to be in the best hands possible and it to be in the best position possible,” Thomas said of Woods. “I think it would be very easy for someone like him, all he’s done, just kind of like [say], ‘What do I need to do? I’ve made the tour what it is, where it’s at financially, all the sponsors, TV deals, whatever,’ and it would be pretty easy for him to just hide under a rock the rest of his life and be just fine. But that’s not who he is, he wants to continue to see the PGA Tour grow and succeed.”
The policy board, which also includes player directors Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, McIlroy and Webb Simpson, must approve a final agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF. The sides signed a framework agreement to form a new for-profit entity, which will combine their commercial activities, including the LIV Golf League.
Policy board chairman Ed Herlihy and independent director Jimmy Dunne helped Monahan negotiate the framework agreement. Mark Flaherty, Mary Meeker and PGA of America director John Lindert also serve on the policy board. If the planned alliance is finalized, PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan would also join the policy board as an independent director. He would replace one of the existing independent directors, sources told ESPN on Tuesday.
The board will replace former AT&T chairman Randall Stephenson, who resigned from his position over concerns about the planned partnership with Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund.
“Tiger’s voice and leadership throughout his career have contributed immeasurably to the success of the PGA Tour, and to apply both to our governance and go-forward plan at this crucial time is even more welcomed and impactful,” Monahan said in a statement. “I am committed to taking the necessary steps to restore any lost trust or confidence that occurred as a result of the surprise announcement of our framework agreement.
Monahan took a leave of absence for undisclosed medical reasons on June 13, a week after the PGA Tour’s surprising announcement. He returned to work on July 17.
“My job in the negotiations — in partnership with our player directors, [Player Advisory Council] and the broader membership — is to advocate for what is best for the PGA Tour members today and in the future,” Monahan said. “Any agreement we reach must be shaped by our members’ input and approval earned through our player directors.”