Tiger Woods Now Joins PGA Tour Board

The PGA Tour has announced that Tiger Woods would join its policy board, a concession intended to give players more info and oversight as discussions go on for its dubious deal with Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

Last month, former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson resigned from the board, refering to worries about tolerating Saudi investment – – something others in the tour, including players, have raised.

The tour and LIV have reached a framework agreement so far, but the deal hasn’t been done yet because lawmakers have been looking at it.

The move comes as debate has encircled the tour since it declared a proposed bargain that would see it join with LIV Golf, which is backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, an entity controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Europe’s DP World Tour.

The PGA Tour and LIV were the targets of antitrust lawsuits prior to the announcement of the proposed deal, as players left the tour for lucrative LIV careers. Since then, the lawsuits have been dropped.

Up until this point, just a system understanding has been met and PGA player directors should approve a possible conclusive agreement. Legislators, tour participants, and fans have reacted with ire and confusion to the proposed deal.

The Tour said it agreed to guarantee it “satisfies its main goal of being a player-driven association, ‘for the players, by the players”. Woods will be the 6th player director on the board, which also includes five autonomous directors and the PGA of America director.

Other player directors include Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson.

“This is a critical point for the tour, and the players will do their best to make certain that any changes that are made in tour operations are in the best interest of all tour stakeholders, including fans, sponsors and players,” Woods said in the statement.

“The players thank Commissioner Monahan for agreeing to address our concerns, and we look forward to being at the table with him to make the right decisions for the future of the game that we all love. He has my confidence moving forward with these changes.”

In June 2023, Stephenson stepped down. The tour stated in a memo that its four remaining independent directors would collaborate with its player directors and PGA director to fill his position.

Stephenson said in his reminder to the board that he had “serious worries” about the proposed arrangement and whether he could dispassionately assess or uphold it because of the U.S. knowledge report evaluating that the Saudi crown ruler requested the killing of writer Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

PGA Tour golf players have voiced dissatisfaction the proposed deal was announced in June. Jay Monahan, commissioner of the PGA Tour, stated that he had accepted the criticism and had anticipated being called a hypocrite.

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Since its launch in 2022, LIV has been surrounded by controversy and criticism due to its Saudi backing, with the exception of the antitrust lawsuits and the tour’s efforts to prevent its players from traveling to LIV, as Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau did.

The sovereign wealth fund has been accused of “sportswashing” by critics for using LIV to distract from the kingdom’s history of human rights abuses.

The tour said in a statement that players came together “to uphold the tour’s core principles and ask that certain steps be taken immediately,” and Monahan agreed to support the players and their requests.

In addition to Woods’ appointment, Monahan stated that the tour will collaborate with the players to amend the governing documents of the policy board to clarify that no major decision can be made in the future without the player directors’ prior involvement and approval.

The proposed manage PIF met up over a range of weeks, during which board members met with Saudi authorities. The deal was known to the players either before or after it was announced.

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The most recent agreement with the players stipulates that the special advisor of the player directors, Colin Neville, will be informed about the negotiations envisioned by the framework agreement. It also adds that player directors will have full transparency and the authority to endorse or decline any possible changes to the tour as a feature of the discussions.

Tour representatives have defended and testified about the deal to a Senate subcommittee, saying they believe the PGA Tour would benefit from the proposed deal. Policy board independent director Jimmy Dunne said during his testimony that if the deal is completed, the tour would “definitely stay intact and becomes more powerful.”

Documents obtained by lawmakers showed that a proposed idea would have seen Woods and McIlroy own LIV golf teams and participate in at least 10 league events.

McIlroy has been one of the most frank pundits of LIV, as well as the deal. He expressed agitation that the proposed deal was being referred to as a merger.

Credit: CNBC

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