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PGA Tour's surprising deal with Saudi Arabia's PIF strikes a nerve

Readers of The First Call have plenty to say about the pro game's landscape-changing agreement that was announced on June 6

Travelers 2015:  Final Round
Fans surround the 18th hole at The Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Question of the week [June 7-11]: What are your thoughts on the PGA Tour's deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the principle backer of LIV Golf, that was announced on June 6?

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Note: This story is being updated regularly with new responses.

Narrative is not needed to know the why and impact of this deal.

— Money talks. Greed talks. The Saudis have counted on this and now everyone will grab the biggest share of the pie no matter what.
— Sportswashing is an acceptable function now in golf (and other sports), allowing a country with abusive actions against their own people, especially women, self indulgence to excess, excessive control of numerous parts of the lives of people in their country and extremely harsh punishment for crimes, some of which of questionable crimes. Golf is now allowing an abusive regime to make itself clean. Refusing to discuss the execution of 50 Pakistanis, “We don’t talk about such things” continues to show how the PGA and DP World tours have sold out. Many will get rich but who really suffers?
— If it is true that Greg Norman is out of it completely, that is great. He has been trying to tear apart the PGA Tour forever. He is an angry self indulgent person bent on ruining the lives of others.
— The framework apparently sets up the Saudi’s as the controlling party. When they have accomplished their own agenda watch them withdraw the resources or somehow change the the agreement to benefit only themselves.
— The U.S citizens and other country’s citizens will continue to pay for the billions used for this venture long into the future until we no longer need to rely on Saudi oil.
— This is a sad time for the PGA and DP World Tour. 
— The platitudes in their statements is sickening and will continue to cover up the sins of many.

Gary Link
Maple Grove, Minnesota

1. The Saudis just bought professional golf, which was their aim all along.
2. Jay Monahan better watch his back, I think there is a large target on it.
3. I wonder what will be Jay Monahan’s compensation as the CEO of the new organization?

John Brewton
Johns Island, South Carolina

The greed is appalling.I'm waiting to hear Tiger Woods' and Rory McIlroy's positions.

I haven't heard anyone ask the most important question: How much did Jay Monahan get for selling his soul? How can Joe Dunne face the families of 9/11 after what he's done.

My best friend lost his sister-in-law on 9/11. I spent the entire day on 9/12 going to every hospital and emergency site with my friend, hoping to find his sister-in-law. I will never forgive Jay Monahan and I hope that Congress gets involved to kill this deal. Shame on the PGA Tour.

Jerome Davidson 
Cartersville, Georgia

1. PGA Tour loyalists got screwed.
2. Professional golf is now owned by the Saudis.
3. It is a sad day in our great game.
4. So much for the PGA Tour being run by the policy board and for the players.
5. Human rights never had a chance. It's always about the money.
6. Any player looking to rejoin the PGA Tour should be penalized heavily — financially and time wise.

Yes to new leadership.

Larry Guli
Waxhaw, North Carolina

I immediately canceled my Golf Channel subscription and will never watch another PGA Tour event. I was already having difficulty watching the majors. To imagine a Saudi sitting at the top of the organization is gut wrenching. But people will moan and groan for a little while and then acquiesce once again, and another little chunk of America will be gone. We are no longer a country of morals and character but of profit.

Jenni Fangsru
Ronan, Montana

At it's core, the PGA Tour/LIV/DP World agreement places in stark perspective the enormous worldwide divide that exists between the have and have-nots (read: millionaires/billionaires vs. everyone else), as well as the power and control the extremely wealthy are exerting in business, sports, politics and society, in general. It must also be pointed out that the Saudi Public Investment Fund marketing itself as PIF not SPIF — can only be explained in terms of further evidence that LIV (and now the PGA Tour) are, indeed, engaging in the practice of sportwashing the image of the Saudi monarchy.

Roger Rosenquist
Palos Heights, Illinois

Money always wins out in these type of scenarios. Believe the LIV folks were going to try and bankrupt the PGA Tour. LIV has plenty of money, where the PGA Tour had a finite amount of money being a non profit.

Mike Herbert
Hammond, Louisiana 

I was disgusted and disappointed to hear the news about the proposed PGA/LIV merger.  I imagine Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and other greats of this game would react the same way as me. I feel sorry for the PGA Tour players who stayed with the Tour and honorably rejected LIV and the Saudis. This is the time for all golfers, non-golfers and corporate sponsors to send a message to PGA Tour leadership that their decision is not welcomed, will not be supported and will cause disinterest in PGA tournaments similar to the existing dismal interest in LIV events.  

Dave Sampson 
Greenville, South Carolina

Disgusting and disappointing, but not all that surprising. The fact that the PGA Tour suddenly came up with millions of dollars to fight the Saudi invasion told us that Phil Mickelson was right about a lot of things. The Tour was all about the money. The good news is that for everyday golfers, the deal really doesn't mean much. My watching of PGA Tour golf on TV has dwindled over the past few years to where it's mostly just the majors that I watch. I will continue to travel and enjoy golf for the great game it is, and will pay minimal attention to the PGA Tour/LIV combo and how it's doing. Many people will be affected by this new arrangement, but people who just play golf for fun will not be greatly impacted.

John Abercrombie
Cape Girardeau, Missouri

With the increased financial support, will the purses increase substantially? Will there be a two-tiered system? Will there be funding for the PGA Tour's feeder tours (Korn Ferry, Canadian, Asian, Latin/American and Champions)? And will the Euro Tour benefit significantly? Will the Tour have events in merging markets around the world like the Olympics to help grow the game? I hope there are built-in contingency plans and long-term commitments. Last, where does this leave the LPGA, which is just beginning to attract bigger sponsors and have a great product? Is there a place for the ladies to play on some of the teams with the men? Is there a chance to increase their prize money too? 

Michael Schurman
Durham, Ontario

My thoughts on the PGA Tour's deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the principal backer of LIV Golf. I feel it can be good for golf. Hopefully, Greg Norman has gone back to Australia to be never heard from again. Now the game as we have watched for ever will be enhanced by bigger purses and maybe there can be some equity shared with the LPGA to grow the game worldwide. 

Brian Nelson
North Haven, Connecticut

I have many mixed thoughts on the merger. I thought we would see some kind of deal in maybe 2025, but not this soon. I know that when the path is paved for the guys who left the tour to come back, I sure hope they can’t come with the full boatload of money they got for leaving. And then for the guys that got offers and stayed, how or do you find some type of compensation for them? When there’s an answer to both questions, it probably still won’t be a good answer as far as most players are concerned. 

I think another thing that the fan and players have to understand is the PIF and LIV Golf are not the same thing. LIV is a tour, and the PIF is an infinite amount of money that flows in a lot of directions. Didn’t they basically buy the World Cup?

I think Jay Monahan has the toughest sale ever. The players as a whole may never forgive him regardless how this all turns out. If he survives until the next vote, I don’t think he’ll be the next commissioner. Good luck to him, because he’s going to need it. And by the way, I am completely against the merger and how it was communicated or, mainly, not communicated to the players. 

Barry Duckworth 
Knoxville, Tennessee 

Once upon a time I was so proud of Jay Monahan, who took a strong stand against the Saudi’s buying talent. He now says he did that with the information he had at the time. Well nothing has changed for the 9/11 families or the Jamal Khashoggi family or the 80 Saudi citizens who were beheaded in the public square.

Tell me Jay, what changed your mind? From all appearances, it looks like you were bought and paid for. Your moral stance that I once applauded is showing the world the hypocrite that you are. I am hoping you will resign, get fired and leave the PGA Tour, which you sold out for blood money. Please quit saying things have changed. They haven’t.

Bob Golliher
Naples, Florida

One thing that might make the PGA Tour players happy would be a 50% penalty to those former Tour players who took millions from the Saudis to join LIV. Phil Mickelson was paid $200 million. If he wants to rejoin the Tour, he pays $100 million. What to do with the money? Give some or all of it to the families of the 9/11 and to Jamal Khashoggi's family. Keep the rest for bigger purses at all PGA Tour events.

Chris Seyer
Phoenix, Arizona

— PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan's salary is currently ... ?
— After this merger his new salary is ... ?
— What was his incentive to make this happen?

No one talks about the LPGA Tour. The oppression of women in Saudi shows that they think women are subservient to men. Not true.

How are the sponsors going to react with the cash?   

It's all about money and greed. We took a sport that paid on performance of the individual and now made it like the NBA (China), etc.  

These countries are opposed to the USA and their beliefs. We are all being sold out?

Rick Ewert 
Daytona Beach, Florida

When viewed in a big picture, long term context, the deal is great for the future of professional golf worldwide. So many possibilities. For example, can you visualize a team concept league between the three tours culminating in an annual Golf World Series. The healing process needs to begin. United we stand, divided we fall.

John Byrne
Downingtown, Pennsylvania

The deal was to be expected, but still surprises me it came now. It's time for PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to resign, his job is done ... before he gets lynched.

As far as details are concerned, don’t hold your breath as to what money is going to be paid out to players. It will not exactly be transparent, although ’ somebody’s gonna’ open up anonymously to spill the beans. The question is: Will PGA Tour HQ be moving to Riyadh???

As for 2023 US Open, I can’t wait for it to start.

Pete Croppo
Bayfield, Ontario

The only good thing about this event is that it is extremely likely that Greg Norman will be forced into the shadows. Other than that, golf as a real sport has been sold out. In recent years, golf has been one of the few remaining sports with any semblance of class. Now it has been totally co-opted as a political marketing device by a regime that hates everything about our way of life except the money that our oil purchases brings.

As a life long golf enthusiast I am frankly embarrassed ... no, mortified that PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sold us out. His betrayal effects not only the players of professional golf, but the entire sport. I honestly think this sell out will greatly impact my interest in professional golf. Feel sorry for the classy playing professionals who stood by principle and honor, and now find that they have been betrayed. Arnold Palmer just rolled over in his grave and flipped off Monahan.

Len T. Raley
Auburn, California

This partnership does not make me proud to have supported the PGA Tour's stance. With all the things that Jay Monahan and Rory McIlroy have stated in the aftermath does not change one of the crucial aspects of this deal and that is the PGA Tour is accepting PIF money and has become fully supportive of sportswashing the PIF.

I do not believe that I can support the PGA Tour. While my withdrawal from watching PGA events will not affect the Tour in any significant way, it is my way to protest this action. I also believe the public has been used by the Tour in order to gain more financial leverage for itself. I have played golf for over 50 years; however, I will no longer support the tour.

I can hope that some of the sponsors of the Tour events will withdraw their sponsorships.

Craig Whaley
Tucson, Arizona

If this [PGA Tour-PIF agreement] finalizes as has been advertised, I will never watch any men's professional golf ever again and I will be unsubscribing from this newsletter because I will have negative interest in the subject. This newsletter will be an innocent casualty of this happening. 

Dan Gould 
Fresh Meadows, New York

I have attended my last PGA Tour tournament. This transaction was about money and ignores the human rights record of the Saudis. It gets us back to the days of exclusion of golfers of color in the USA. 

Rick Hamilton
Reston, Virginia

A perfect example of "follow the money."

For PGA Tour leadership to mail-in its integrity while appearing to lead a game based on integrity is hard to accept. I just got back several hours of watching tournaments on the weekends.

I have already uninstalled my PGA Tour app. I'm done. Hope others are doing the same.

Jay Rogers
St. Louis, Missouri

A burning question I have is how much money did Monahan receive or promised from the Saudi’s for this deal?

Al Horn
Borden, Indiana

I am very disappointed in the PGA Tour's decision to join up with LIV for all the odious things they have done. [PGA Tour Commissioner] Jay Monahan's earlier comment "will any player have to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?”, I think they will now. And my burning question is: How much money is Jay receiving for this turnabout??”

Ken MacKay
Ontario, Canada

Golf was just fine a few years ago. Plenty of competition on great courses, seemed to me like the players were making pretty good money, and I watched quite a bit.

Along came Greg Norman, Saudi money and LIV. Golf but louder? I tried watching it and it reminded me of Nickelodeon. No cuts, shotgun starts, wearing shorts (gasp!) — all travesties compared to listening to Jim Nantz whisper on TV.

At this point, I'm somewhat disgusted with all of it. Teams? Come on now, this isn't the Ryder Cup. PIF involvement? Remember that next time you're at the pump after another voluntary Saudi production cut. I'll feel good about paying that extra coin knowing that some entitled golfer is getting more money.

Actually, the reality for me is I'm tired of all of it, and I'm acting with my feet and will not bother wasting my time watching it besides maybe a major here and there. And my golf game will improve, no more standing over a 180-yard shot with my 56-degree wedge thinking "Gee, Jordan Spieth would be hitting the same club."

Mark Koszyk
Mt. Prospect, Illinois
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