Report: Term Sheets Exchanged Over Potential Deal Between PGA Tour And Saudi PIF With Negotiations 'Far From Dead'

The New York Times is reporting that a potential deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabian PIF "is far from dead" just days after two PGA Tour board members resigned citing a lack of movement in negotiations.

Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Negotiations between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund over a potential merger in men's professional golf are "still very much alive", according to a report by the New York Times.

The Times' DealBook reporter, Lauren Hirsch, has stated that not only are those conversations still ongoing, but - according to two people familiar with the talks - term sheets have been exchanged "in recent days" in relation to a deal that would see the PIF deposit $1.5 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises - the US circuit's for-profit arm.

Any such investment from the PIF would follow January's announcement that the Strategic Sports Group - featuring several American billionaires - would be injecting $1.5 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises as part of a $3 billion overall package which saw the group also take a minority stake.

At the time, it was suggested that far from the PGA Tour shunning PIF finances as a result of the recent SSG investment, Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund may still be able to join forces at a later date - "subject to any necessary regulatory review and approvals."

From the PGA Tour's point of view, the SSG deal was seen as a way of keeping up with the PIF for the time being and - crucially - ensuring any agreement with LIV Golf's backers would stand a far better chance of being passed by US government officials further down the line.

According to the latest New York Times report, "the deal now on the table" would see the PGA Tour maintain majority control of its 'Enterprises' branch while receiving $3 billion worth of investment - split equally between the Saudis and their American partners. Yet, Hirsch also pointed out that "a deal is far from certain" at this point, with the future of LIV Golf still to be decided.

The report comes just days after two independent directors on the PGA Tour board resigned, with one citing a lack of meaningful progression towards a unification agreement as part of the reason for his exit.

Firstly, Jimmy Dunne - who was the central figure in helping to negotiate the PGA Tour's framework agreement with the Saudi PIF last year - left his role in the build-up to the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla, calling his former position "utterly superfluous."

Towards the end of the week, Mark Flaherty then followed Dunne out of the door at Sawgrass, although his departure did not include any pointed comments.

Speaking in between the two resignations, former PGA Tour player-director Rory McIlroy called Dunne's decision "a huge loss" for the US-based circuit and admitted he was "concerned" over the prospect of an agreement coming to fruition.

He said: "Yeah, honestly I think it's a huge loss for the PGA Tour, if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game.

Rory McIlroy speaks to the media ahead of the 2024 PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy spoke to the media ahead of the 2024 PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

"Jimmy was basically "the" relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA Tour and PIF. It's been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that.

"So it is, it's really, really disappointing, and you know, I think the Tour is in a worse place because of it. We'll see. We'll see where it goes from here and we'll see what happens.

"But you know, I would say my confidence level on something getting done before last week was, you know, as low as it had been. And then with this news of Jimmy resigning and knowing the relationship he has with the other side, and how much warmth there is from the other side, it's concerning."

The deal between the PGA Tour and PIF was hoped to be done by December 31, 2023, but the deadline was not met. Former DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley hoped it would be done before he left office in April, but the timeframe for a deal is currently unknown.

Seth Waugh - chief executive of the PGA of America

PGA of America CEO, Seth Waugh

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Meanwhile, PGA of America CEO, Seth Waugh expressed his wish for a merger to occur soon and said men's pro golf "needs" something to happen as the game isn't "big enough for two tours."

Speaking before the PGA Championship at Valhalla, he said: "On the deal side of things, look, I said earlier, it's messy, and it has been, right, and it seems to get messier every week. I'm a little bit -- I'm a very optimistic type and I'm sort of hoping it's darkest before dawn, if you will, but I think, you know, I think the best thing for the game is a deal. And we've been very consistent on that front.

"I don't think the game is big enough for two tours like that, and I think we are diluting the game in a way that is not healthy. We've said that, really, from the beginning. I hope there's a deal.

"I think both sides are not only committed to trying to find a deal but really need a deal, and in my history of deal making, when both sides kind of need something to happen, it generally does."

Jonny Leighfield
Staff Writer

Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.