Tiger Woods is now fine with Saudi blood money funding PGA

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After years of holding out from the big money of LIV Golf, Tiger Woods said he isn’t opposed to the Saudi government’s Public Investment Fund being an investor in the PGA Tour.

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Woods was asked about the PIF during a news conference ahead of The Genesis at Riviera. The event marks Woods’ first return to the Tour since the 2023 Masters.

“Ultimately, we would like to have PIF be a part of our tour and a part of our product,” Woods said. “Financially, we don’t right now, and the monies that they have come to the table with and what we initially had agreed to in the framework agreement, those are all the same numbers.

“Anything beyond this is going to be obviously over and above. We’re in a position right now [where] hopefully we can make our product better in the short term and long term.”

Taking money from the Saudi government has been a major ethical sticking point for some of the players on the PGA Tour. Phil Mickelson, the first defector to LIV Golf, knew that going into the deal with LIV according to an excerpt from an Alan Shipnuck biography on the lefty golfer.

“They’re scary motherf*****s to get involved with,” Mickelson said. “We know they killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”

Mickelson later walked back his comments about the murder of Khashoggi once LIV Golf began operations, saying “I think we all agree, the Khashoggi situation, that was reprehensible. No one’s going to argue that. But we’re golfers.”

The PGA Tour has already agreed to a $3 billion deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), a group made up of billionaire sports team owners led by John Henry and Tom Werner of Fenway Sports Group. Additional investors include Mark Attanasio (Milwaukee Brewers), Arthur Blank (Atlanta Falcons), Wyc Grousbeck (Boston Celtics) and Steve Cohen (New York Mets), among others. The money from SSG was used to found PGA Tour Enterprises, a for-profit arm that was originally designed as a framework between the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour, and the PIF. The framework had a December 31, 2023 deadline, and a deal could not be reached with the original parties.

The deal with SSG opens up the potential for $930 million in equity to be distributed across past, former, and future players, according to a memo sent to PGA Tour players on February 7. Another $600 million would be distributed through recurring grants.

The deal with SSG may mean the PGA doesn’t even need the deal with the PIF. When PGA Tour Policy Board member Jordan Spieth was asked about the SSG deal, he noted that a PIF deal is “almost not even worth talking about right this second.” Spieth added that a deal with the LIV Golf backers “would be a unification” for the two golf leagues. However, when asked specifically about a deal, Spieth said “I don’t think that it’s needed.”

According to ESPN, an additional deal with the PIF would potentially inject another $3 billion or more into PGA Tour Enterprises.

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