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PGA Tour chief Monahan: End of 2023 remains a ‘firm target’ for PIF merger

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says finalising the circuit’s merger with LIV Golf by December 31 remains a “firm target”, with further talks with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund due to take place next week.

In June, Monahan agreed to a merger to bring an end to the PGA’s bitter feud with LIV Golf, after the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed circuit enticed a number of household names to its rival events by offering huge financial rewards.

The end of 2023 was set as the target date for the foundation of a new enterprise, bringing together players from both tours and drawing on Saudi funding, to be finalised.

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However, reports have since suggested that deadline may have to be pushed back amid scrutiny from US government departments, while the PGA has also said outside investors have expressed interest in joining the talks.

Speaking at an event held by The New York Times on Wednesday night, Monahan confirmed he was set to meet PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in the coming days.

“We’re having conversations with multiple parties,” Monahan said. “The deadline for our conversations with PIF, as you know, is a firm target.

“I’ll be with Yasir next week, and we continue to advance our conversations.

“I think it’s pretty well known that there’s a large number of other interested parties that we’re also pushing to think about.”

Monahan attracted fierce criticism over his handling of the agreement, with leading players including Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy saying they were left in the dark over the talks.

The PGA chief took a leave of absence lasting around a month shortly after the framework agreement was announced, citing mental health concerns, and he says the tour’s battle with LIV Golf had a major effect on his wellbeing.

“I think what’s happening to me in my head around that timeframe was not too dissimilar to what was happening to me in the months prior to it,” Monahan said of June’s agreement.

“This had been an extended conflict. It had affected me, my mental and my physical health.”

Players from the PGA Tour are also locked in negotiations around the acquisition of a stake in the new commercial entity, and Monahan claims the merger will allow players a level of control over their sport.

“When this gets finalised, the PGA Tour is going to be in a position that I talked about earlier, where again, the athletes are owners in their sport,” he said.

“You’ve got not only the PIF, but you’ve likely got another co-investor, with significant experience in business, in sport and brand that’s going to help take the PGA Tour to another level and help us be more competitive.

“What’s most important to our players is that they go from the model of being independent contractors to being owners.”

Harry Carr
Harry Carr
Harry is a freelance sports journalist with experience of working for the Racing Post, Stats Perform, Opta Analyst and more, covering major events across all sports but holding a particular love for the beautiful game.
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