Tom Watson blasts PGA Tour-Saudi PIF merger in open letter
Two weeks ago, the PGA Tour announced the earth-shattering revelation that it intends to create a new business entity with the Saudi PIF.
Just about everyone was shocked by the news, and in the days since, players and media alike have been scrambling for details. Those who remained loyal to the PGA Tour and rebuffed offers from rival Saudi-backed league LIV Golf felt especially stung. Many of them took to social media to express their displeasure.
And now, you can count Tom Watson among them.
In an open letter to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour policy board and PGA Tour players, Watson outlined a number of questions he feels have been unanswered by Monahan about the proposed merger, and he accused the commissioner of blatant hypocrisy in the sudden about-face.
The eight-time major winner’s letter clocked in at more than 1,000 words. You can read it in full above, but here are five topical highlights:
Players should have had input in the merger
“In my opinion, the communication has been mishandled and the process by which the Tour agreed on a proposed partnership with PIF was executed without due process,” Watson wrote.
What are the benefits of the merger for Tour members?
“The Commissioner and the PGA Tour Board, on which five Tour players sit, are going to have to do a lot of firsthand explaining to comfortably coax acceptance with our membership on this partnership with the PIF,” Watson wrote. “The Tour’s stakeholders: the players themselves, the broad span of global media, as well as the tournament sponsors and independent Tour partners, require an explanation of the benefits of forming this partnership.”
Watson’s questions are all of our questions
“What does acceptance of this partnership mean to the Tour? What do we get? What do we give up? Why was this deal done in such secrecy and why wasn’t even one of the players who sits on the Tour’s Policy Board included?” Watson asked. “A matter this profound deserves thorough vetting by a representative group of stakeholders which include those, who in the end, define the public image and emotional connection with the PGA Tour.”
“What if any, are the plans to reinstate Tour players who defected and now want to return to the PGA Tour?”
“Have funds been depleted to the point where the Tour needs an unprecedented capital injection to remain solvent now or for the future?”
Watson’s not a fan of the Tour’s hipocrisy
“These questions are compounded by the hypocrisy in disregarding the moral issue; a position which for a long time was publicly highlighted by Tour leadership,” Watson wrote. “While it is accepted that players on all levels would value the opportunity to make more money, it has also been illustrated that not all of our players are in search of money at all costs. Those who stayed true to the Tour for whatever personal reason or position of moral conscience are more than a few outliers.”
Watson stands with 9/11 victims — and decries Saudi human rights record
“I still await Saudi acknowledgement of their role in the attacks of 9/11, which resulted in the loss of the innocent lives of 3000 of my fellow American citizens,” he wrote. “I support 9/11 Families United and their efforts to release supporting exculpatory U.S. Government documents (See 9/11FamiliesUnited.org/KeyDocuments). That day, forever among the darkest in our nation’s history, is sadly not alone among the human rights violations we have seen employed by Saudi Arabia. I ask the Tour, how is a non-negotiable point for us one day one we negotiate around the next?”
Watson concluded his letter with a plea for answers to his questions.
“Please educate me and others in a way that allows loyalty to both and in a way that makes it easy to look 9/11 families in the eye and ourselves in the mirror,” he wrote.
MORE PGA TOUR-LIV MERGER COVERAGE: Player reaction | 21 burning questions & answers | Brandel Chamblee sounds off | Rory, Tiger left in the dark | PGA Tour-LIV Golf timeline | Can this happen? A legal expert weighs in | Jay Monahan defends decision