PGA Tour-PIF/LIV Golf deal: The drama isn't going away anytime soon

The PGA Tour's deal with LIV Golf's backers will be put under the microscope once again in another hearing held before the US Senate.

PGA Tour-PIF/LIV Golf deal: The drama isn't going away anytime soon

The PGA Tour-PIF/LIV Golf drama isn't going away anytime soon. 

Whilst the majority of those interested in the game are gearing up for the forthcoming Ryder Cup, the politicians are preparing for a fresh senate hearing scheduled for next week. 

In June, democratic senator Richard Blumenthal - the chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, announced a probe into the PGA Tour's 'framework agreement' with LIV Golf's wealthy Saudi backers that was announced on 6 June 2023.

The agreement brought an immediate end to the litigation between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf which began in August 2022 when a number of high-profile golfers were banned from the North American circuit. 

Phil Mickelson and 10 other players filed an antitrust claim. The PGA Tour responded and were even allowed to directly sue the PIF and its governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. 

What followed was a war of attrition. It appeared the legal dispute was going to take years to resolve. 

Blumenthal previously accused the Saudi government of trying to buy influence in American sport. 

In the first hearing, held on 12 July, Blumenthal began by saying:

"Today's hearing is about much more than the game of golf."
"It is about how a brutal, repressive regime can buy influence, indeed, even take over a cherished American institution simply to cleanse its public image."

Recap: What happened in the first hearing?

Two high-ranking PGA Tour executives, Jimmy Dunne and Ron Price, were put under the spotlight and depending on your point of view answered a number of questions about the vague agreement between golf's organisations. 

But a number of key figures were absent. LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman and PIF governor Al-Rumayyan cited scheduling conflicts. 

And PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was on medical leave. We now know that Monahan struggled with anxiety after the 6 June announcement. 

Several PGA Tour members called for his resignation but the embattled boss has returned to the fold. 

He was jeered at the season-ending Tour Championship, though. 

PGA Tour-PIF/LIV Golf deal: The drama isn't going away anytime soon

Monahan has since said he will provide testimony to the committee if requested

There is another hearing scheduled for next week. 

Per The Hill, it appears that the aforementioned Al-Rumayyan will not be present again. 

The powerful Saudi businessman, who is also the chairman of Newcastle United, has been asked repeatedly to provide his testimony. 

Akin Gump Strauss & Feld, the firm representing Al-Rumayyan, told the publication:

"The PIF is proud of its investments and believes that its support for forward-thinking companies will facilitate growth, economic opportunity, and job creation in the United States, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and around the world. 
"As the governor of an instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a minister bound by the Kingdom's laws regarding the confidentiality of certain information, however, [Al-Rumayyan] cannot participate in any public hearing that is part of an unbounded inquiry into the PIF's past, present, and future interests and investments."

The PGA Tour-PIF deal, which also involves the European-based DP World Tour, was hatched in a series of secret meetings across the globe. 

Dunne was the first to reach out via WhatsApp to Al-Rumayyan. 

It is said that Al-Rumayyan and Monahan met in Italy and London and even shared a game of golf. 

Monahan later said it took him 10 minutes to fully trust Al-Rumayyan. 

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