Saudi PIF boss to soon meet privately with PGA Tour players: Report  

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Greg Norman

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, left, and Greg Norman in February of 2023.

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Jordan Spieth confirmed a report that says the PGA Tour’s policy board is being encouraged to meet with the head of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, but Spieth would not say when that meeting would be. 

The story, however, written by Golfweek’s Eamon Lynch (which you can read in full here) reports that the meeting could happen as soon as Monday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, the city where this week’s Players Championship is being played. The story said the meeting would include Saudi PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and the policy board’s six player directors — Spieth, Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Peter Malnati — though when Spieth was asked on Friday after his Players Championship second round to confirm the report, the question just noted him and “other policy board members.” 

“We are being encouraged to potentially meet with him at some point, yeah,” Spieth said, referring to Al-Rumayyan.

The potential meeting would be the latest step in a now-ninth-month negotiation on a funding deal between the Tour and the PIF. When it was revealed last June 6, it had stunned players and observers due to both its as-to-then secrecy and the fact that the PIF was also the backer of LIV Golf, which has competed with the Tour for players and prestige since its first event, in June of 2022. 

The Tour has said it has continued talks, though in January, it also struck a billion-plus-dollar deal with the Strategic Sports Group, a collection of sports-teams owners. Notably, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said Wednesday, in his annual pre-Players Championship press conference, that he and members of the Sports Group traveled in January to Saudi Arabia to meet with Al-Rumayyan and the PIF.

Monahan, also at his press conference, said he believed negotiations between the Tour and the PIF were “accelerating,” though he was mostly mum to reporters’ questions on details. He did note that the SSG deal bolstered the chances of “a successful conclusion” with PIF, while also saying that balancing the interests of the Tour’s players was “complicated.”

“I recognize that this is frustrating for all of you,” Monahan said, “but it really is not in the best interest of the PGA Tour and our membership and for PIF and for me to be talking about where we are with specific elements of our discussions.

“I, again, I would just stress the fact that we’re engaged, we’re making progress, but I’m really not at liberty to share any of the details on that front.”   

The fact that talks continue, though, has raised interest — and Monahan was twice asked on Wednesday what would happen if no deal was struck with the PIF. Early last month, Spieth had said a deal with PIF was not needed following the SSG agreement. 

“So, I’m always aware of — you always have to be open to not doing something while you’re trying to do something,” Monahan said. “In this case it’s trying to negotiate a deal. And so if we don’t negotiate a deal, then I think ultimately we’re back in the same posture that we’re in, and we haven’t unified our game and taken advantage of this unique point in time.

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“But I don’t have anything further to add about what happens if we don’t. I’m focused on trying to see if we can.”

Now, Tour players will apparently soon meet with Al-Rumayyan, though Spieth would not directly answer a question asking whether the gathering would be in “the near future.”

“I’m not sure that I can say much more other than we’re being encouraged to potentially meet with him,” Spieth said Friday, “but at the same time, we probably feel like our membership should know timing and what could happen and just in general maybe it’s just to meet — I think there’s not a whole lot more I can say about that. 

“But we are being encouraged obviously, which I think is probably a good thing that the entire board should if there’s going to be any potential for a negotiation.” 

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