by George McNeilly
ATLANTA, Georgia – The TOUR Championship traditionally serves as a backdrop for the commissioner’s season-ending yet forward-facing state of the sport briefing, and today was no exception. Jay Monahan delivered about 19 minutes of prepared remarks before taking about another 25 minutes of questions from the assembled media.
Monahan spoke of sports continued growth and popularity while providing predictable metrics and financials to back it up quite well. He also hopes the 2024 season opener at Kapalua will inspire those suffering from wildfires that Hawaiian officials say have become the deadliest natural disaster in state history.
“Absolutely,” was his response when asked if the TOUR was committed to playing the Sentry Tournament of Champions. “But I think there’s so many unknowns, and we want to be respectful of the challenges.”
When pressed about what they are now calling a framework for an agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Monahan said the PGA TOUR is engaged in multiple conversations each week as both sides work on an alignment that will reshape the future of men’s professional golf.
Very few specifics have been revealed since the TOUR announced on June 6 that it had entered what it called at the time “a merger” with the financial backers of LIV Golf League after more than a year of bombastic back and forth.
As part of the deal, both sides agreed to drop the looming litigation, and establish a new for-profit company, PGA TOUR Enterprises, with PIF coming aboard as a minority investor.
Of course, the elephant with us in the East Lake Country Club ballroom is the future of LIV Golf.
Monahan would not indulge a reporter’s question about the future of the rival league or whether defectors would be welcomed back to the TOUR.
As part of this new proposed ground-breaking venture, Monahan will serve as CEO of the new entity, while PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan would be chairman of the board of directors – and all will undoubtedly consider the continued viability of investing in LIV.
“I’m not going to talk publicly about them until we’ve completed those discussions and I can answer that question specifically and directly,” Monahan said.
Those discussions are being led by chief operating officer Ron Price and Tyler Dennis, executive vice president and president of the TOUR, who appeared with the commissioner at today’s news conference.
Dennis characterized the ongoing process with PIF representatives as “very positive and collaborative.”
The deadline to reach an accord is Dec. 31, and when asked if there’s any reason to believe that a deal cannot be reached by then, Monahan said: “At this point, no, I don’t have any reason to think that we won’t be successful.”
The commissioner exuded confidence that “a positive outcome will be reached for the PGA TOUR.”
George McNeilly is an award-winning multimedia broadcaster, producer and writer with a journalism background that has spanned the globe from four Olympics, 17 Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Finals, Major College Football, Basketball and Professional Golf. A former Senior ESPN executive, George teaches Sports Business at Full Sail University and is managing partner of McNeilly Communications.