“We have a shared vision to quiet the noise and unlock golf’s worldwide potential”

Merger with the PIF is still on says PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan as he addresses the media for the first time in months at the Players Championship.

The PGA Tour boss said he had met with Public Investment Fund (PIF) Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan recently and progress on the framework agreement continued to be made.

“We have a shared vision to quiet the noise and unlock golf’s worldwide potential,” the 53-year-old revealed, but he refused to confirm whether he’d be willing to welcome LIV Golfers back onto his Tour as he spoke at TPC Sawgrass ahead of The Players Championship.

The LIV Golf merger still hangs in the balance

In June last year, the shocking news broke of the decision to merge the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), sending shockwaves through the sport.

Progress on the merger appeared to have reached a standstill before Monahan broke the silence to say that despite several key issues still needing to be worked through, “negotiations are accelerating”.

In February the PGA Tour signed a $3 billion deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), giving nearly 200 players access to more than $1.5 billion as equity owners in a new for-profit venture called PGA Tour Enterprises.

The cash injection from the SSG was necessary to shore up the PGA Tour’s finances after a bruising battle with PIF and promises to reward the stars that have remained loyal to the Tour with significant performance-based incentives over the next five years.

“The SSG partnership has changed the dynamic and unleashed our potential for future growth and with our player equity program, which is the first in professional sports, our interests and those of our players will be more deeply aligned.

“Our business thrives when together we’re all laser-focused on delivering for our fans,” said Monahan.

The PGA Tour and Strategic Sports Group have announced the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises.

On the breakaway tour, Monahan refused to be drawn on whether he saw a pathway back for LIV golfers, but did admit to having discussions around team golf even though he was not at liberty to discuss specifics.

He also revealed that PGA Tour representatives had spoken with Anthony Kim before his LIV debut earlier this month, laying out how Kim would need to earn his way back or rely on several tournament invites. “Obviously he made a different decision.”

Speaking on the eve of what has historically been dubbed the game’s ‘fifth Major’, Monahan defended his position that the Tour was at its strongest possible point, despite the glaring absence of many of the world’s elite including Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, and the in-form Joaquin Niemann.

“We’re at the best tournament on the PGA Tour. This is the greatest tour in the world. We consistently produce talent.

“I’m focused on every single member of the PGA Tour, the Players, and the rest of the season. We’ve made incredible progress with SSG about moving the tour forward. I can only focus on the things that I can control,” he added.

Jon Rahm is favorite to win LIV Golf Hong Kong

But despite unmistakable strength in depth, highlighted through its variety of winners already in 2024, few will dispute LIV’s diluting influence on the PGA product.

Monahan seemingly tried to get ahead of remarks to this effect by citing a 30% improvement in the strength of fields in 2024’s reimagined calendar with eight $20 million Signature Events designed to deliver maximum drama and consequence.

He even singled out how Open Champion Brian Harman had cornered him in the parking lot to express their “awesomeness” in what felt like the chance to rebuke Lucas Glover’s ‘money grab’ appraisal he’d been waiting for.

The commissioner congratulated the three rookie winners this season – Nick Dunlap, Matthieu Pavon, and Jake Knapp, and highlighted the victories by other names such as Wyndham Clark, Hideki Matsuyama, and Scottie Scheffler as wins against “stacked leaderboards.”

And while that may be so, the tumbling world rankings of LIV’s stars do little to disguise the fact those leaderboards are less stacked than before. The integrity of the OWGRs has never been lower, and it seems LIV’s recognition for points is one fight Greg Norman’s willing to lose.

Nick Dunlap becomes the first amateur golfer since Phil Mickelson in 1991 to win on the PGA Tour

Addressing PGA Tour fans, “All of this talk about investment and growth, I want you to know that we’re focusing our energy on bringing you the most competitive and entertaining tour possible.

“It’s my commitment and it’s our players’ commitment. This is a transformational time for the sport we all love and we’re excited to take the lead.”

With golf’s popularity at an all-time high, galvanized with new eyeballs thanks to Netflix’s Full Swing docuseries, Monahan is under pressure to break the PIF deadlock and bring its fractured elite back to competing in the game’s most iconic events.

He admitted as much himself, “Our fans love golf, and they’re tired of hearing about conflict, money, and who was getting what. They want to watch the world’s best golfers compete in tournaments with history, meaning, and legacy on the line at venues they recognize and love.”

Today’s revelation that the PGA Tour, SSG, and PIF have been in constant dialogue in recent months is perhaps more encouraging than expected, although the lack of a clear pathway to unifying the game’s premier tours will prevent anyone from getting too carried away.

Jay Monahan has announced huge purse increases on the PGA Tour to counter the LIV Golf threat.

When pressed on whether he had been asked to resign, the self-appointed PGA Tour Enterprises Chief said: “There has been a lot of good-spirited debate on our board. I am the right person to lead us forward. I know that. I believe that in my heart, and I’m determined to do exactly that.”

The commissioner signed off his hour-long press conference by stating he was “never satisfied with anything”, hinting at the complicated dynamic of meeting the demands of 200 plus members, over 100 different corporate partners, and 50 tournament organizations.”

Asked what he might have done differently, Monahan admitted he “could have handled last summer better,” but that everyone has moved on, learned from it, and is excited for the future.

“I’m really proud of our players. I’m really proud of my team members. We’re just trying to get better every single day, and I feel like as an organization we have come a long way in the last several months, and I expect next time I’m in front of all of you we’ll have a lot more progress to report.”

During his address, Monahan also gave a heartfelt goodbye to the departing DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and R&A chairman Martin Slumbers, crediting both with leaving their respective organizations in a much stronger position.

Keith Pelley will become the new President & CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment

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About the author

Ross Tugwood is a Golf Equipment Writer for Today's Golfer.

Ross Tugwood

Senior Digital Writer

Ross Tugwood is a golf equipment writer for todays-golfer.com, specializing in data, analytics, science, and innovation.

Ross is passionate about optimizing sports performance and has a decade of experience working with professional athletes and coaches for British Athletics, the UK Sports Institute, and Team GB.

He has post-graduate degrees in Performance Analysis and Sports Journalism, enabling him to critically analyze and review the latest golf equipment and technology to help you make better-informed buying decisions.

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