PGA Tour player directors encouraged to meet with Saudi backers of LIV Golf

Jordan Spieth blasts from the sand trap along the 11th green during the first round of The Players Championship golf tournament Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Jordan Spieth blasts from the sand trap along the 11th green during the first round of The Players Championship golf tournament Thursday, March 14, 2024, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott said the player directors on the PGA Tour board are being encouraged to meet with the Saudi Arabia wealth fund leader behind LIV Golf, a sign that could spark talks of an investment.

Golfweek reported Friday evening a meeting could happen as soon as Monday, the day after The Players Championship. It cited two sources who said it was unclear if Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Public Investment Fund, had committed to the meeting.

“I’m not sure that I can say much more other than we’re being encouraged to potentially meet with them,” Spieth said, adding that it was “probably a good thing that the entire board should if there’s going to be any potential for a negotiation.”

Scott said he would be as curious as he was to meet the U.S. private equity groups — from which Strategic Sports Group emerged as a minority investor with an initial $1.5 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises — “just to put a face to a name.”

“Ultimately the players are some of the vote going into whether a deal will happen or not, just like it was with SSG,” Scott said. “With the seriousness of what we’re voting on, I think it is important that we’ve all met no matter what anyone’s feelings are.”

Scott and Spieth are player directors along with Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson and Peter Malnati.

The PGA Tour originally announced a framework agreement with PIF on June 6, a decision that stunned players because only Commissioner Jay Monahan and board members Ed Herlihy and Jimmy Dunne were involved in the turnaround deal.

The agreement was to be finalized by Dec. 31, but then Congress got involved and U.S. investors expressed interest. The SSG deal announced Jan. 31 could be upward of $3 billion.

Spieth had said then he didn’t think a deal with PIF was needed, adding the upside would be unification in the game. PIF is the money behind LIV, which has lured away players like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and most recently Jon Rahm.

That put Spieth at odds with Rory McIlroy — whom Spieth replaced on the board — because McIlroy felt it would complicate negotiations with PIF to suggest it was no longer needed. McIlroy also said he felt LIV players should not be punished, which was met with strong disagreement from top PGA Tour players.

Monahan, meanwhile, was vague on details on Tuesday because he felt he couldn’t discuss publicly what was going on in the private dealings with PIF.

“Our negotiations are accelerating as we spend time together,” said Monahan, who met with Al-Rumayyan in January. “While we have several key issues that we still need to work through, we have a shared vision to quiet the noise and unlock golf’s worldwide potential.

“It’s going to take time, but … I see a positive outcome for the PGA Tour and the sport as a whole.”

Woods and Cantlay are among directors who have said they had not met Al-Rumayyan or any of the Saudi golf leaders during the negotiations.

Scott said such a meeting was inevitable.

“If the PIF thinks it’s beneficial that we meet … as far as getting on with business, yeah, let’s get on with it,” Scott said. He said any meeting would be “part of the process,” just as it was in negotiating with SSG.

“I would like to resolve this no matter what the outcome is,” he said. “And we can all move on.”

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