Commissioner Jay Monahan said the PGA Tour could not afford a legal fight with LIV Golf’s Saudi backers and higher purses to prevent player defections, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
The newspaper reported that Monahan told tour employees in a meeting Thursday at the tour’s Florida headquarters that it was an unsustainable financial battle to challenge the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), worth a reported $600 billion.
The PGA Tour and PIF announced a merger on Tuesday that settled the legal battle between the rivals only a year after LIV Golf launched with several stars who jumped from the PGA for big-money offers from the upstart series.
“We cannot compete with a foreign government with unlimited money,” Monahan told employees, according to the Journal. “We waited to be in the strongest possible position to get this deal in place.”
Monahan said the PGA Tour had already spent $50 million in legal fees and taken another $100 million from reserve funds to finance increased purses in new “designated events” and for other bonus payments to players, the newspaper said.
The PGA boosted prize money by $100 million for its events from last year’s levels and doubled Player Impact Program bonus money to $100 million for 20 top players from 2022.
A PGA-LIV legal fight, wiped out by the deal, was set for a court date next May but could have dragged on much longer.
The PGA Tour has also had to be concerned with a US Department of Justice anti-trust investigation, one that figures to produce deeper scrutiny in the wake of the merger.
Monahan has been criticized as a hypocrite for making the deal with the Saudis by not only several PGA players but also September 11, 2001, terrorist attack victims family groups who decry alleged Saudi links to the tragedy.
Monahan had used 9/11 families in criticizing LIV’s Saudi backers for more than a year in his battle to prevent PGA players from departing.
The Journal reported that Monahan was asked how he would explain the deal to his daughters given Saudi human rights issues with women.
“I understand all the human rights issues,” Monahan said, according to the report. “I’ve had them all myself.”
© Agence France-Presse