How will LIV pros be punished and PGA Tour players rewarded? Here’s 1 idea
Rory McIlroy, one day after the PGA Tour-Saudi PIF bombshell, was asked whether players who stuck with the PGA Tour and turned down LIV Golf should be “made whole financially.” After all, the thought was, these pros potentially rejected significant — and guaranteed — sums from the tour that is also Saudi-backed.
And McIlroy agreed that they should be, essentially, rewarded.
He just didn’t know how.
“I mean, the simple answer is yes,” McIlroy said Wednesday, one day ahead of the start of this week’s Canadian Open. “The complex answer is how does that happen, right. And that’s all, that’s all a gray area and up in the air at the minute. But, yeah, there is, it’s hard to, it’s hard for me to not sit up here and feel somewhat like a sacrificial lamb and feeling like I’ve put myself out there and this is what happens.
“Again, removing myself from the situation, I see how this is better for the game of golf. There’s no denying that. But for me as an individual, yeah, I — there’s just going to have to be conversations that are had.”
Based only on reports, it appears there’s already at least a plan.
According to an ESPN story published early Friday night, Jimmy Dunne, one of the architects of the proposed PGA Tour-DP World Tour-Saudi PIF deal, said that Tour players would receive equity shares in a new, for-profit enterprise being formed among the trio. That enterprise was among the announcements made when the arrangement was revealed Tuesday morning; other parts of the deal were that pending litigation among the sides would end, and the Tour would remain a tax-exempt organization.
Dunne, a businessman, PGA Tour policy board member and the Seminole Golf Club president, told ESPN that Tour pros would receive the shares on a yet-to-be-determined formula — and that those players who left for LIV would be denied from the program.
“The new [company] would grow, and the [Tour] players would get a piece of equity that would enhance and increase in value as time went on,” Dunne told ESPN. “There would have to be some kind of formulaic decision on how to do that. It would be a process to determine what would be a fair mechanism that would be really beneficial to our players.”
Notably, across various interviews over the past few days, Dunne has been offering additional details of the proposed deal. In an interview with Sports Illustrated published Thursday, Dunne added that Tour commissioner Jay Monahan now oversees LIV Golf; Monahan could disband LIV; and that the PIF will get “right of first refusal” to be the Tour’s investment partner through the aforementioned new company.
Back to McIlroy.
It should be noted that he appeared to not know about the equity plan. Did McIlroy forget? Was it not announced to players? Was the idea developed after the Tour-PIF agreement? It’s unclear.
At a minimum, McIlroy wasn’t the only one who believed Tour pros should be rewarded. Consider this exchange on Thursday between pro Chesson Hadley, a Tour media official and GOLF’s Sean Zak, in the wake of Tuesday’s annoucement.
Zak: “I gather basically a lot of conversations happening that are sharing of ideas, honestly.”
Zak: “Have you heard any good ones?”
Hadley: “No. I guess — is it true that Jay said he’s going to reward those who stayed loyal to the Tour? Did he say that yesterday?”
Tour media official: “I don’t have it in front of me right now.”
Hadley: “He did not say that? I think he said that about Rory and Tiger [Woods], didn’t he? Anyway. I would like to be rewarded for some loyalty. I mean, I felt — those guys didn’t do the wrong thing, who went to LIV. They made a business decision. I don’t hold that against anybody. But I would like to be rewarded for my decision to stay loyal.”
Zak: “I believe the quote was, to the extent of the guys who did stay, top-10 players who did stay will be rewarded for their loyalty, rather than, to a extent greater than they would have gotten by leaving.”
Zak: “Which checks out.”
Hadley: “Yeah. We’ll see what that means.”