While many of the details have yet to be resolved, readers of The First Call share their initial thoughts on who will and will not benefit when the dust finally settles
Question of the week [June 12-18]: Who do you believe are the winners and losers from the recently announced PGA Tour-PIF deal?
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My loser is a toss-up between Rory McIlroy and Jay Monahan with the nod going to Monahan. Rory was there because it probably cost him $400-$500 million, but he lives to play again beginning this week. Monahan, on the other hand, will be forced to resign due to player pressure.
My winner is every player on LIV Golf who took the money and ran. They lined their pockets and will be returning to the PGA Tour with smiles on their faces.
The Villages, Florida
It remains to be seen. Biggest losers could be those players who opted out of leaving the PGA Tour and not being compensated for their loyalty, and, with tournament rescheduling of this new entity, certain events and sites may be casualties of the merger.
Reading the responses to the LIV/PGA Tour merger — if that's what it is — I have to say I generally agree with them. Those who bothered to write were disappointed and even angry at the news. Many said they would no longer be watching, even while knowing it will not have much effect. Like them, I have found myself watching regular PGA Tour events less and less. The coverage is boring, although better with the sound off, and I found LIV to be unwatchable.
However, it was the news of Jimmy Dunne's involvement that struck me as the most incredible. A man who was lucky to not be at work on 9/11 in the twin towers. A man who lost many employees and friends in the attack and who reportedly went beyond normal expectations to support — and continues to support — these families. A man who made multiple statements about his opposition to supporting or working with the people who put planes into those buildings and murdered so many people he knew.
How does he face them now? I couldn't.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Who are the winners and losers in the PGA Tour/LIV/PIF deal? Too early to tell, and it depends on who you ask. What I can observe and opine on is this:
— It’s remarkable how so many people are now calling nasty on the PGA Tour for dealing with PIF. What did you expect when all the talking heads on NBC, Golf Channel, and CBS were bashing LIV for doing so? They ingrained it in people’s minds.
— If the powers that be — such as Jay Monahan and Jimmy Dunne — think they can pick and choose who can rejoin the PGA Tour, think again. It will be (or should be) an all-or-nothing deal. The LIV guys will stick up for each other ... I hope.
— If those same powers that be think they can now compensate the PGA Tour guys with equity for their so-called loyalty, think again. Let the lawsuits begin.
— Congress will threaten and gnash its teeth and let people think its watching over this, but it’s all show. Many, many companies do business with the PIF. As for the so-called monopoly that is being created, what do you call what the PGA Tour was before LIV?
— Lastly, it’s a really good thing for the game to come together. I will hopefully enjoy seeing Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia as opposing Ryder Cup captains some day.
We won't know if anyone won or lost until we see how the two tours will amalgamate. We don't know how those who joined LIV will be treated, or whether the LIV tour will continue until the contracts expire. Will the PGA Tour continue having weekly sponsors? Will they donate the same amounts to charity? And will the format of 72 holes remain? My hope is there will be significant amounts of money available to increase the purses of the Korn Ferry Tour, and the other tours operated by the PGA Tour, including the Champions Tour. Last, I hope there's enough to increase the purses of the LPGA.
The obvious winner is the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. It now has a prominent seat at the table and, arguably, has acquired some form of control — or, at the very least, significant input/influence on professional golf worldwide. Financially, the top professional golfers will benefit greatly once the dust settles. Hence, I consider it a huge winner. The PGA Tour is a winner in that the LIV legal problem goes away and it negotiated as good a deal as possible from a position of strength. Jay Monahan wins — he keeps his job and, for the time being, heads up the NewCo.
Clearly, the big losers are Greg Norman and LIV. Despite the hollow words, LIV and Norman will be gone within 24 months — never to be seen or heard of again in any meaningful way. Jay Monahan is also a loser in that his reputation is ruined. He wears the hypocrisy. The PGA Tour is a loser in that it has ceded some form of control to the PIF, the amount of which is undetermined at this time. Perhaps the biggest loser are golfers ranked 100-300 in the world. The demand, interest and payout to these players is in serious doubt. The NewCo has zero interest in these players, hence I can see their earning potential dropping significantly or even disappearing. I should note, the game of golf is a loser in this respect because how do we nurture the next level of elite golf talent at the professional level? NewCo is all about stars, not nurturing talent.
As for the game of golf and the average golf fan, it is much harder to determine if they win or lose. Twenty million dollar purses will make a spectator’s ticket purchase look much like a Formula 1 ticket — very expensive. While this new Saudi money will initially fund the NewCo, the average fan will shoulder some of the increased payout in much higher ticket prices. In that respect the fan is a loser. The fan and the game will benefit from the best players playing the best more frequently, so they win from a viewing perspective. Once you get beyond the shock of the announcement, I see very little in this which benefits our great game or the average golfer who tees it up every Saturday morning. Let the rich/powerful guys negotiate and fight it out, let me know when the whole mess is sorted out.
I believe the losers are the PGA Tour and its members. Obviously the PGA Tour leadership overplayed its hand and had no choice but to negotiate with PIF.
— Definitely PIF. Now it can bring the money to two tours that desperately need it — PGA and DP World.
— LIV Golf. I believe it will continue and will hold events that PIF sponsors, especially the events that aren't elevated.
— The DP World Tour now will have stability. It may now attract LIV events and increase purses.
Unfortunately, the big loser from this event is the PGA Tour.
The PGA Tour states that they will be in charge. What a naive position to take. In the final analysis it is always the money that carries the day. It says that the reason this was necessary was to avoid the high cost of litigation. When you enter litigation you are required to go through the process of discovery. There is no way the Saudis would be willing to expose themselves to a discovery process.
The PGA Tour stated that the infusion of Saudi funds would ensure continued success of the Tour. I find it hard to believe that if this was the case, it could not find many wealthy American companies that would love to invest and be part of the PGA Tour family. Was this even explored?
Lastly was there any thought given to how the present PGA Tour sponsors will react to be partnered with such on odious regime?
Golf fans are the true winners here. No one wants to hear a "Tastes Great, Less Filling" shouting match for more than two minutes.
Las Vegas, Nevada
There is no doubt that the current LIV players will benefit the most from the merger. If they are getting their current contracts paid in prorated portions, most have a boatload of money. If they play their full contract on LIV and then return to the PGA Tour, regardless of the fine they may have to pay, they come back with a boatload of money. If they stay on LIV and LIV survives, they get their money. But you have to figure that there are plenty of LIV players who will not get contracts renewed because their marquee value is minimal at best. If there is a LIV Tour, you have to believe there are going to be PGA Tour players playing in some of those events. That has to end up being part of the deal.
All of this is speculation, because it’s all any of us have to go on. But I think the rank and file PGA Tour player will benefit the least. I hope that’s not the case. But if you’re ranked 70th to 150th, you may be locked into that position for a long time based on the number of LIV players that may end up taking tournament spots or what happens with limited fields and designated events. The rich may get richer and the rest get the leftovers, which I hope is still plenty.
— The Saudis are the winners if the U.S. Department of Justice approves the arrangement. This is what they wanted all along — a seat at the table of international golf.
— The PGA Tour is a $150,000,000 loser at the moment. We shall see.
— LIV is a loser, as well. What's the point of throwing away money on something that has little impact on the future of the game?
— The Majors are winners, as well. Their legacy is intact.
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