19 June 2023

Tom Watson calls for answers from PGA Tour commissioner over new partnership

19 June 2023

Eight-time major winner Tom Watson says the PGA Tour’s new partnership with Saudi Arabia appears to indicate “a more desperate financial situation than has been previously revealed by the Tour”.

Watson has written an open letter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan about the “unanswered questions” he and many other professional players have regarding the shock announcement on June 6 concerning the creation of a new commercial entity designed to “unify golf”.

The announcement brought an end to litigation between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, a series backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) which will now provide the financial backing for the new commercial entity.

Prior to the announcement, Monahan had been an outspoken critic of LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia, and Watson wrote: “The reversal (in position) does appear to indicate a more desperate financial situation than has been previously revealed by the Tour.

“While last week I learned the significant news that litigation around the Tour/LIV conflict would be terminated with prejudice, that only solves one significant financial problem.

“It is important to understand how all of this has impacted the Tour’s Reserve Fund and the Tour’s overall financial solvency. Have funds been depleted to the point where the Tour needs an unprecedented capital injection to remain solvent now or for the future?

“My overarching questions remain. Is the PIF the only viable rescue from the Tour’s financial problems? Was/is there a plan B? And again, what exactly is the exchange? We need clarity and deserve full disclosure as to the financial health of the PGA Tour and the details of this proposed partnership.”

The United States Senate has opened an investigation into the proposed partnership, while the Wall Street Journal reported last week that a PGA Tour official informed employees that the US Justice Department also plans to review the agreement for antitrust concerns.

The PGA Tour said last week when the Wall Street Journal report was published: “We are confident that once all stakeholders learn more about how the PGA Tour will lead this new venture, they will understand how it benefits our players, fans, and sport while protecting the American institution of golf.”

The PGA Tour insists the partnership is not a merger, and that the PIF will not own the PGA Tour.

The PA news agency understands the PGA Tour felt the choice it faced was between a lengthy litigation which would drain resources, divert attention and diminish its product and a path forward that reunifies professional golf and fuels investment into the sport.

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