Mark SchlapachSenior writer for ESPN3 minutes to read
Under pressure from US Justice Department antitrust regulators, the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) have agreed to remove a non-solicitation clause from their framework agreement that prevented tours from recruiting other players, a PGA Tour official confirmed to ESPN Thursday.
The source told ESPN that the Justice Department has reviewed the framework agreement and raised concerns about the non-solicitation clause.
The PGA Tour has notified its policy board of the development, which was first reported by The New York Times on Thursday.
The entities signed a framework agreement on May 30 to combine their business assets into a new for-profit entity called NewCo. Ron Price, the PGA Tour’s chief operating officer, told US senators during a subcommittee hearing Tuesday that the Public Investment Fund is ready to invest more than $1 billion in the new business venture.
According to the framework agreement, the PGA Tour will have a majority vote on the board of directors of the new company, regardless of the size of the PIF investment. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will serve as president of the new company; The Governor of the Public Investment Fund, Yasser Al-Rumayyan, will assume the position of CEO.
The deal has yet to be approved by the PGA Tour Policy Council, which has five player managers, incl Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay.
Even without the no-solicitation clause, it seems unlikely that a player could jump from the PGA Tour to the LIV golf league while the two entities negotiate the final details of their surprise alliance. His league roster is full for the 2023 season, said Greg Norman, CEO and Commissioner at LIV Golf, and the future of the circuit featuring shotgun starts, team competition and 54 holes is uncertain at best.
If the deal is finalized, the new company’s board of directors will make a “good faith” assessment of LIV Golf, and Monahan will be the final authority on whether to play the circuit after this season.
The Public Investment Fund spent more than $2 billion in financing the LIV Golf League in its first two seasons. He has lured past major champions Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Kupka, Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau with guaranteed, multi-year contracts worth more than $100 million.
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