In a groundbreaking proposal during talks between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), it was revealed that golf legends Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy could become owners of LIV Golf teams.
The proposal also suggested that both Woods and McIlroy would participate in 10 LIV Golf events each year. These revelations were made public during a hearing conducted by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, where documents pertaining to the agreement between the Tour and PIF were released.
Possible Ownership and Meeting with PIF Governor
The documents indicated that Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were being considered for ownership stakes in LIV Golf teams. It was also implied that McIlroy had a meeting with PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in November 2022.
These developments signify a potential shift in the golfing landscape, with high-profile players becoming directly involved in team ownership.
Proposals Beyond Ownership
Alongside the ownership proposals for Woods and McIlroy, PCP Capital Partners presented additional ideas to the PGA Tour policy board members. The presentation, titled “The Best of Both Worlds,” outlined various suggestions.
One notable proposal included the removal of LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and the United Kingdom agency Performance 54, which played a significant role in LIV Golf’s growth. Rory McIlroy expressed his belief that Norman’s departure was necessary to bring stability and progress to LIV Golf.
Long-Term Agreements and Team Events
The proposed long-term agreements involved a potential LIV Golf team event with qualifying events in Saudi Arabia and a final week in Dubai. This superstar LIV team event would feature 16 captains and a live draft televised to generate interest similar to the Ryder Cup. Television revenue was intended to benefit LIV Golf, showcasing the potential for substantial financial gains.
Additional Proposals Considered
The proposals put forth during the PGA Tour and PIF talks included a global golf investment fund managed by PIF, sponsorship of at least two high-profile PGA Tour events by Aramco and/or PIF, and PIF Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan becoming a Director of the International Golf Federation, as well as receiving memberships at Augusta National and the R&A.
Another intriguing idea was the concept of a “World Golf Series” culminating in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there were discussions surrounding the operation of LIV Golf alongside the PGA Tour or during a different part of the year.
Multiple Framework Agreement Drafts and Initial Contact
According to the released documents, at least eight drafts of the framework agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi PIF existed. However, none of the proposed considerations made their way into the executed framework agreement.
The initial contact between the PGA Tour and PIF was facilitated by British businessman Roger Devlin on December 8, 2022. Devlin acted as a mediator in the search for a resolution between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne initially showed little interest, but the conversation gained momentum after Devlin reignited the dialogue on April 14, 2023.
Subsequently, Dunne and PIF Governor Al-Rumayyan engaged in discussions, leading to the announcement of the framework agreement less than two months later.
A New For-Profit Entity
The framework agreement established a plan for the PGA Tour and PIF to consolidate their commercial operations under a new for-profit entity called PGA Tour Enterprises. The Saudi PIF intends to be a minority investor in this entity, with an estimated investment of over $1 billion, as stated by PGA Tour chief operating officer Ron Price during the Senate hearing.
The proposal for Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to become owners of LIV Golf teams, along with their participation in 10 LIV events per year, highlights a new era of player involvement and ownership.