PGA Tour gets investment from Strategic Sports Group amid LIV talks

PGA Tour gets investment from Strategic Sports Group amid LIV talks

The PGA Tour logo is seen during the third round of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut, June 24, 2017.

Fred Kfoury | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

A U.S. consortium has agreed to invest up to $3 billion in the PGA Tour, the professional golf organization announced Wednesday.

Under the agreement, investor Strategic Sports Group will become a minority owner of the PGA Tour Companies, the PGA Tour’s for-profit entity. The group will initially invest $1.5 billion in the PGA Tour.

The second $1.5 billion of the investment is guaranteed, according to a source familiar with the talks. The PGA Tour will get it once negotiations with the Saudi investment fund are complete. There is no deadline for these discussions to end.

The deal comes as the organization tries to plan its future amid competition from the upstart LIV Golf and a proposed merger with the Saudi-funded league. The Tour confirmed the progress of its ongoing negotiations with PIF regarding a possible future investment and its discussions with the DP World Tour.

“Today is an important moment for the PGA Tour and golf fans around the world,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.

The deal received unanimous support from the PGA Tour’s player directors.

As part of the new agreement with Strategic Sports Group, the tour announced that nearly 200 players will have the opportunity to receive equity ownership in the tour, the league said. These would be awarded in the form of grants that vest over time – and would be based on their professional achievements and their future participation and merit on the Tour.

“By making PGA Tour members the owners of their league, we strengthen our players’ collective investment in the success of the PGA Tour,” Monahan said.

Strategic Sports Group is led by John Henry of Fenway Sports Group. It includes a variety of investors, private equity names and sports owners, including Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank, New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Boston Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck.

“Our enthusiasm for this new venture is based on a deep respect for this remarkable game and a firm belief in the expansive growth potential of the PGA Tour,” said John Henry, principal owner of Fenway Sports Group and manager of Strategic Sports Group.

Monahan and Henry held a players-only call Wednesday morning to share the news with members.

The investment comes at a crucial time for professional golf. The turbulent rivalry between the PGA Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed LIV Golf has divided players, and a merger could dramatically change the sport.

The PGA Tour-LIV deal was first announced in June, when Commissioner Jay Monahan and Saudi Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan announced the news on CNBC. This came as a surprise to many as the two competing leagues were engaged in a bitter legal battle at the time.

Critics claimed the deal was a way for Saudi Arabia to gain influence in the United States through sports investments. Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman controls the PIF.

LIV Golf launched in 2022 and was founded as a rival league to the tour. By offering lucrative prize money and signing bonuses, the Saudi tour was able to poach top players such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Jon Rahm.

The PGA Tour-LIV golf deadline was originally set for December 31st. Monahan previously told players that the organizations would extend the deadline based on their progress to date. A formal decision on the merger is expected to come before the Masters tournament in April.

The deal is subject to approval by the Justice Department and regulators.

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2024-01-31 17:25:36