Eight-time Grand Slam champion Tom Watson wants answers about the PGA Tour’s new business partnership with LIV Golf’s Saudi sponsors, asking in a letter Monday to commissioner Jay Monahan if the deal was the only way to resolve the difficulties. circuit financials.

That was one of several questions raised by Watson in the letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press and sent to Monahan, the PGA Tour board and «my fellow players.»

He said the questions were «complicated by the hypocrisy of ignoring the moral issue.»


Tom Watson prepares to bat at the honorary starter ceremony before the first round of the Masters golf tournament on Thursday, April 7, 2022, in Augusta, Georgia. Eight-time Grand Slam champion Tom Watson wants answers on the PGA Tour’s new business partnership with LIV Golf’s Saudi sponsors asked in a letter on Monday, June 19, 2023, to commissioner Jay Monahan if the deal was the only way to resolve the financial situation of the tour. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

The day after Wyndham Clark became the last major champion by winning the US Open, the focus shifted back to a subject that has consumed golf for the past three years. It took a surprising turn on June 6 when the PGA Tour announced that it had teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund and the European tour to bring commercial businesses under one roof.

Monahan referred to it as a «framework agreement» and had few answers for the players in a meeting two weeks ago at the Canadian Open. A Players’ Advisory Council meeting is scheduled for the Tuesday before the Travelers’ Championship in Connecticut.

Monahan, who withdrew due to a «medical situation» on Wednesday, is not expected to attend. Two of its top executives are in charge of the day-to-day operations of the tour.

The tour said in the June 6 announcement that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Public Investment Fund, would be the chairman of the new company and Monahan would be the chief executive. Two PGA Tour board members, Ed Herlihy and Jimmy Dunne, would join them on the executive committee.


Yasir Al-Rumayyan walking

Yasir Al-Rumayyan attends the champions ceremony at the LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago tournament on Sunday, September 18, 2022 in Sugar Hill, Illinois. The most disruptive year in golf ended on Tuesday, June 6, 2023, when the PGA Tour and the European Tour agreed to a merger with Saudi Arabian golf interests, creating a business operation designed to unify professional golf across the globe. world. Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, will join the PGA Tour board, which continues to operate its tournaments. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

The agreement contains guarantees that the tour would retain a majority voting stake in the new business entity, regardless of how much the PIF contributes, according to a person who has seen the agreement.

The person, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been made public, said the deal allows for a financial investment from PIF and pools the current and future golf-related investments of the three parties. That would include LIV Golf.

The agreement called for the new company’s board of directors to have majority representation appointed by the PGA Tour, the person said. The PGA Tour would still have full authority over how it runs its competition.

Key details such as the future of the LIV Golf are still missing. Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau have said they are planning a 2024 season.


Richard Blumenthal talks to journalists

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Ct., speaks to reporters on Wednesday, May 31, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., suggested Sunday that congressional hearings could be held in a few weeks.

Blumenthal is Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He said on CBS’s «Face the Nation» that the subcommittee wants information about what was included in the deal and who was behind it and details about the structure and governance of the new company.

«There are very, very few details,» Blumenthal said. “But remember, what we have here is essentially a repressive, autocratic foreign government seizing control of an iconic and cherished American institution for the clear purpose of cleaning up its public image,” he said.

A key to the agreement was to end all litigation. The PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf filed a motion on Friday to dismiss with prejudice the antitrust lawsuit LIV players filed in August, the countersuit the tour filed in September, and even an appeal by PIF to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to avoid having to give statements in the lawsuits. They cannot be resubmitted.


Jay Monahan public speaking

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan watches the final round of THE PLAYERS Championship at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass on March 12, 2023 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. (Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Monahan has said that the lawsuits (a trial date was not expected until at least mid-2024 with many performances in between) had contributed to «significant» success on tour.

Watson said in his letter: «Is the PIF the only viable rescue from the Tour’s financial problems? Was/is there a plan B? And again, what exactly is the trade?»

He mentioned hypocrisy twice, especially in regards to criticism from groups like 9/11 Families United about the reversal of the tour.

«My loyalty to golf and to this country live in the same place and have carried equal and significant weight with me throughout my life,» Watson said. «Please educate me and others in a way that allows for loyalty to both, and in a way that makes it easy to look the 9/11 families in the eye and ourselves in the mirror.»

Watson is not alone in asking questions. The Justice Department’s antitrust division has been reviewing the golf landscape since last summer, and is now beginning to look into the tour’s deal with the Saudis and whether it violates federal antitrust laws. The investigation is in its early stages as the deal is just 2 weeks old and still being finalized.


Jay Monahan in June 2022

FILE – PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks during a news conference before the start of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands, Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Cromwell, Connecticut. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Monahan has said that everything in the framework agreement would be subject to board approval.

Blumenthal told CBS that he thought a hearing would be possible «within a few weeks.»

«The American people deserve a clear look at the facts here,» he said. «Again, without prejudging what the conclusions will be. But what the Saudis are doing here is not taking control of a single team or signing a player. In fact, they are taking over the entire sport, and it’s not just a saudi». individual. It’s the regime.»