PGA Tour's Monahan is confident on deal over Saudi-funded LIV Golf, uncertain about Maui tournament

ATLANTA (AP) — PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan expressed the same level of confidence Tuesday that he did last year at the season-ending Tour Championship. The difference was the topic.

A year ago, Monahan unveiled a bold new model for the PGA Tour aimed at fending off the Saudi-funded LIV Golf League.

Now it's about getting a deal done with the Saudis.

“As I sit here today, I am confident that we will reach an agreement that achieves a positive outcome for the PGA Tour and our fans — I see it and I'm certain of it,” Monahan said at East Lake Golf Club, where 30 players compete for the FedEx Cup and its $18 million bonus.

“And I see it because when you look at the performance of our players, you look at the commitment of our players ... I feel like we're in the strongest position to be able to succeed and successfully conclude these negotiations in a way that protects the legacy of the PGA Tour on a long-term basis.”

He had far more details a year ago when he announced a schedule in which the top players would compete against each other as many as 17 times for $20 million purses. That's the bones of the schedule going into next year.

The PGA Tour announced a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia's national wealth fund and the European tour on June 6 to create a for-profit company called “PGA Tour Enterprises" in which the Public Investment Fund would be a minority investor.

Its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, would be CEO of the company and have a seat on the PGA Tour board, though Monahan said the PGA Tour had safeguards to call the shots.

They have until Dec. 31 to finalize the agreement, though the sides can agreed to extend the deadline. As for what this means for the future of LIV Golf or what penalties LIV players would face if they chose to come back to the tours, that remains part of the negotiations.

Monahan said negotiations are private and he could not reveal details, even to the players.

He said meetings with PIF and European tour CEO Keith Pelley have been frequent. He described an “intensity” and an “urgency” about the talks and a lot of work that remains.

“We're probably right where I would expect that we would be,” Monahan said.

The uncertainty came from where the PGA Tour would start 2024, when it goes back to a calendar year that will end on Labor Day.

The Sentry Tournament of Champions has been held since 1999 at Kapalua, located about 10 miles (16 km) to the north of the wildfires that devastated Lahaina on Maui. At least 115 deaths have been confirmed in Lahaina, where fabled Front Street was leveled.

Kapalua was removed from the wildfires, though several staff had homes in Lahaina.

“We hope to be a source of inspiration for the great people of Maui and Lahaina by the time that we get to Maui in January,” Monahan said.

But while he said the tour “absolutely” was committed to be there in January, “I think at this point there’s so many unknowns, and we want to be respectful of the challenges.”

“If we're allowed to, if we're invited, if we're embraced given all that needs to be accomplished, we will be there 100%,” he said. “But I think at this point right now that's outside of our hands.”

He said the tour has not contemplated another course if it makes no sense to go to Maui. The Sony Open is the following week on Oahu.


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