U.S. Senator doubles down pursuit of Saudi testimony, documents

richard blumenthal

Senator Richard Blumenthal speaks during the July 11th hearing.

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While the details revealed during the July 11th senate subcommittee hearing on the future of the PGA Tour were substantial, the hearing was apparently only the beginning. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has renewed his pursuit of documents and information from Saudi PIF leader Yasir Al-Rumayyan in a letter released Thursday. 

Blumenthal is the majority head of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and was the first speaker during the hearing 2.5 weeks ago. He has been the government head most interested in the planned merger of commercial interests between the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF, initially reacting to the news with a promise: “I will keep a close eye on the structure of this deal and its implications.” 

Blumenthal is living up to that promise this week by issuing a second request for Al-Rumayyan to testify on behalf of the PIF. 

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“Questions remain as to the role that PIF will play in U.S. professional golf and how that role fits into PIF’s larger investment goals in the United States,” Blumenthal wrote. “Documents received as a part of the Subcommittee’s inquiry thus far indicate that PIF is seeking a significantly increased Saudi Arabian presence in professional golf.”

That much is clear. What isn’t clear is if Al-Rumayyan play ball. His counsel initially declined the first invitation to take part in July due to “scheduling conflicts,” but correspondence between his counsel and the subcommittee show a willingness from the PIF to “be helpful to the subcommittee and work cooperatively” with it. To date, that has not resulted in a satisfactory way, according to Blumenthal’s letter.

The new goal: a hearing sometime in September. 

The subcommittee has set an August 4 deadline for Al-Rumayyan and/or his counsel to reach a mutually acceptable date in September for a hearing similar to what we saw in July. The subcommittee has also made a significant request for documents from the PIF, dating back all the way to 2015. The topic isn’t nearly as focused as past requests, which are golf-oriented. Among the new requests from Blumenthal are documents explaining Saudi Arabia’s business interests within the United States, how those interests have grown over time, and how it may be projected to grow in the coming years as part of Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” initiatives.


That the pressure isn’t going away. But Al-Rumayyan — and the PIF — doesn’t have a history of speaking publicly. And definitely not in a testimonial setting presumed to be as intense as what we saw earlier this month. And, as a foreign citizen, Al-Rumayyan can’t be compelled to testify in front of Congress.

It’s possible we will see the subcommittee pursue additional testimony from other figures involved, notably Jay Monahan, the commissioner of the PGA Tour, who was on health leave during the hearing. Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf, similarly declined the subcommittee’s invitation to testify on the grounds of scheduling conflicts. 

All of this comes as just one extension of the government agencies taking a very close look at the proposed deal between the once-warring organizations. The Department of Justice has been investigating anticompetitive practices for the last 12 months or so. Another senate committee introduced a bill Wednesday that would revoke the tax-exempt status of the PGA Tour. If a lot of things feel like they’re in flux, well, that’s because they are.

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.