The PGA Tour Policy Board on Sunday announced it is advancing negotiations with the investment group led by the owners of the Red Sox to transform the sport’s most prestigious tour into a global for-profit enterprise.
The announcement also said negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund will continue as golf’s landscape undergoes a seismic shift in power, and perhaps structure.
Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of investors that includes Fenway Sports Group and owners of other franchises in all five major US team sports, was the unanimous choice from a group of four investment groups.
In a statement, FSG principal owner John Henry said, “Strategic Sports Group [a consortium of US-based professional sports team investors] has expressed interest in supporting the PGA TOUR and its alliance partner, the DP World Tour, and we look forward to a continued dialogue to help further the commercial aspects of the TOUR on behalf of its membership, partners, and fans around the world.”
Henry’s statement was made on behalf of the Strategic Sports Group’s Mark Attanasio; Arthur Blank; Gerry Cardinale/RedBird Capital Partners; Steven A. Cohen/Cohen Private Ventures; Mike Gordon; Wyc Grousbeck; David Moross, HighPost Capital; Marc Lasry; Tom Ricketts; Tom Werner; and Fenway Sports Group. Henry also owns the Globe.
The PGA Tour was turned upside down in 2021 by LIV, which lured some of the best players in the world to join the team-based league for outrageous money from the almost unlimited petro-dollars of the PIF, which funds LIV.
The most recent defection from the PGA Tour was Jon Rahm, the Masters champion and previously an avowed detractor of LIV and its format. The temptation of life-changing money also reeled in Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith, all major champions, and many others perhaps persuaded by ringleader Phil Mickelson, once among the most popular players in golf.
However, the competition between the PGA and LIV was limited to off-the-course poaching and rhetoric. PGA Tour television ratings on CBS were up 1 percent from 2022; the LIV stopped revealing ratings, which plummeted on the unheralded CW network with its team format and 54-hole no-cut events.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan still face a Dec. 31 deadline on their stunning June 6 announcement of a framework agreement for a deal among the PGA Tour, DP World Tour (formerly the European tour), and LIV.
The news was so shocking and secretive, even PGA Tour players were not aware of the deal. That included Tiger Woods, who has since joined the Player Advisory Council and was part of a unanimous vote to bring on FSG as a partner.
Monahan endured a backlash of criticism, among it the moral high ground he abandoned to deal with the Saudis. About a week after the June 6 announcement, Monahan took a leave of absence, citing a medical situation, although he returned in July.
FSG already has an alliance with Woods and Rory McIlroy in TGL/TMRW Sports, the indoor golf league venture that was set to begin in January until a power system failure delayed its grand opening until 2025. FSG is parent company of the Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, and the Pittsburgh Penguins
Michael Silverman can be reached at email@example.com.