PGA Tour and LIV Golf extend deadline to reach agreement. GETTY IMAGES

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced the extension of the 31 December deadline to continue negotiations with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF). In addition, PIF and other minority co-investors such as SSG and DP World Tour will also be involved.

Regarding the June 2023 deadline for negotiations with the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund (PIF), the PGA Tour has extended the deadline due to a lack of agreements to find a solution within the PGA Tour structure. 

In a statement, the American circuit provided an update on the situation and responded to a commitment to greater transparency during the negotiations. The statement announced the extension of the deadline for further negotiations with the PIF, this time without setting a new deadline. 

However, as expected, it was announced that the agreement with the American investors, grouped under the Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a consortium of investors in professional sports teams based in the United States, was in the final stages. 

"Our goal for 2024 is to reach agreements with SSG, PIF, and DP World Tour to bring them on board as minority co-investors in PGA Tour Enterprises. These partnerships will allow us to unite, innovate, and invest in golf for the benefit of players, fans, and sponsors," the press release highlighted. 

This group of investors includes Fenway Sports Group, which owns teams such as the Boston Red Sox of the NFL, the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL, and the Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, one of the world's top football teams.

"We have made significant progress and have provided SSG with the necessary information for due diligence. As we move forward in our discussions, we are focused on finalising terms and drafting the necessary documentation," the statement said," the statement reads.

Mohahan added: "We continue to have active and productive discussions with PIF and DP World Tour. Although the original deadline for reaching an agreement was 31 December 2023, we are working to extend our negotiations into next year based on the progress we have made to date."

The text also reflects an unannounced development: the PGA Tour's intention to include SSG, PIF, and DP World Tour as minority co-investors in the PGA Tour structure. 

According to Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour's goal for 2024 is to reach agreements with SSG, PIF and the European-based DP World Tour to become minority co-investors in PGA Tour Enterprises.

It is worth noting that last June, the PGA Tour, PIF, and DP World Tour announced a framework agreement to combine their commercial operations into a new for-profit entity, PGA Tour Enterprises, and set a deadline of the end of 2023 to reach an agreement.

Jon Rahm, who had long been a vocal opponent of LIV Golf, decided to change his mind. GETTY IMAGES
Jon Rahm, who had long been a vocal opponent of LIV Golf, decided to change his mind. GETTY IMAGES

The framework agreement with PIF, which came after the PGA Tour lost several high-profile names to LIV Golf, divided the golf world and even irritated US senators, who described the deal as "sports washing" as the kingdom used sport to boost its reputation while facing criticism for its human rights record.

This deadline comes at a difficult time for the future of the PGA Tour. Reigning Masters champion Jon Rahm, who has long been a vocal opponent of LIV Golf, decided on December 7 to "switch sides" and join the rival league in a multi-million dollar deal rumoured to be in the region of $500 million.

It is important to remember that the PGA Tour is the preeminent professional circuit in the United States, comparable in importance to the NBA or NFL, or the FIFA World Cup in football.

LIV Golf, on the other hand, is a recently established professional circuit sponsored by the Public Investment Fund, or in other words, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. 

This issue has strong commercial roots, but that is not the only aspect. It represents the ongoing struggle between East and West, which is now reflected in the struggle between petrodollars and traditional revenues. In other words, the fight of the so-called "free world" against the wealthy Arab "dictatorships" that can influence everything with their money.

For now, the circuits will operate independently: LIV Golf will play most of its 14-event season outside the United States in 2024, and the PGA Tour will return to an annual calendar for the first time since 2012, with five of its eight limited-field events without cuts, partly in response to LIV Golf's structure.