PGA Tour closes up to $3 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group

Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA, watches as Viktor Hovland does interviews on the green of the 18th hole of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan at the Tour Championship last year.

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UPDATE: On Wednesday morning, the PGA Tour announced in a release that Strategic Sports Group “closed on a major financial and strategic investment of up to $3 billion,” with an initial investment of $1.5 billion. With the formation of the Tour’s for-profit arm, PGA Tour Enterprises, the Tour said players will stand to “benefit” from the business’s commercial growth. “Under this program, players would collectively access over $1.5 billion in equity in PGA Tour Enterprises,” the Tour statement said. “These grants — which vest over time — will be based on career accomplishments, recent achievements, future participation and services and PGA Tour membership status, and grants are only
available to qualified PGA Tour players.”


The PGA Tour on Wednesday will announce details of a $3 billion investment in its forthcoming for-profit arm, PGA Tour Enterprises, according to multiple news reports.

Those dollars, as expected, will come from the Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of sports-industry billionaires that includes the likes of New York Mets owner Steve Cohen and Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank.

According to ESPN, the Tour will formally announce the pact to its players on a conference call Wednesday morning; most of the Tour’s top players are at Pebble Beach for this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where the Tour’s dealings, as ever, have been a hot topic.

“I know that they were supposed to vote on it Sunday night, and there was a delay,” Rory McIlroy said Tuesday of the Tour’s player advisory council, of which McIlroy was an active member before resigning in November. “They were supposed to vote on it last night, and there was a delay. I feel like this thing could have been over and done with months ago. I think just for all of our sakes that the sooner that we sort of get out of it and we have a path forward, the better.”

McIlroy could have been speaking not only for the players and the Tour’s administrators but also for fans, many of whom have tired of the endless talk in the men’s professional game over the past two-plus years of strategizing and brinksmanship and massive payouts for the world’s best golfers.

SSG, ESPN and other outlets reported, will be a minority investor in PGA Tour Enterprises, with the Tour maintaining a controlling interest.

The SSG deal is likely to be only the first surge of investment in the Tour. Barring talks collapsing with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — with which the Tour announced a framework agreement on June 6 — the Tour also is likely to a have new partner in the PIF, which funds LIV Golf. After the Tour and the PIF missed a self-imposed Dec. 31 to announce a definitive agreement, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement that the two sides had “made meaningful progress” by way of “active and productive” conversations.

Those remarks came less than a month after LIV had poached one of the Tour’s biggest stars in Jon Rahm, and the high-profile defections didn’t stop there. World No. 16 Tyrrell Hatton, LIV announced this week, also has signed with the fledging tour, which kicks of its third season in Mexico this week.

McIlroy, who was once LIV’s most high-profile critic, has, for one, come around to the notion that the Tour and LIV must find common ground for the betterment of the professional game.

“It would be much better being together and moving forward together,” he said Tuesday. “That’s my opinion of it. So to me, the faster that we can all get back together and start to play and start to have the strongest fields possible, I think, is great for golf.”

When asked whether LIV players who seek to return to the Tour should have to serve some form of penance for turning their backs on the Tour, McIlroy said his opinion on that matter had also softened.   

“I think it’s hard to punish people,” he said. “I don’t think there should be a punishment. Obviously, I’ve changed my tune on that because I see where golf is and I see that having a diminished PGA Tour and having a diminished LIV Tour or anything else is bad for both parties.

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