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PGA Tour-PIF broker resigns, says ‘no meaningful progress’

Jimmy Dunne during his testimony before the United States Senators in July.

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On May 12, 2023, Jimmy Dunne was in Venice, Italy, meeting with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund, among others. Jay Monahan was there, too, looking to broker an agreement between the PIF and the PGA Tour to reunify the sport. One year and one day later – on May 13, 2024 – Dunne tendered his resignation from the PGA Tour Policy Board, due to the lack of progress on that deal.

Dunne’s resignation came Monday at 5 p.m. ET in a 361-word letter to fellow board directors, obtained by and first reported by Sports Illustrated. Finally, two words stand out above the rest: completely excessive. That’s how Dunne explained his role and the weight of his vote less than 12 months after reaching a Framework Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour.

“With the players now outnumbering the Independent Directors on the Board, and no progress being made on the PIF transaction, I feel that my vote and my role are overpowered,” Dunne wrote.

“It is important that the Board avoids allowing yesterday’s disagreements to interfere with today’s decisions, especially if it affects the future chances of the Tour. Reuniting professional golf is essential to restoring fan interest and repairing the wounds left in a broken game. I tried my best to move all the ideas in that direction.”

Dunne’s work over the past year – in Venice, London, San Francisco and New York – led to the surprise news on June 6 that the Tour and the PIF intend to merge their commercial interests through a Framework Agreement. The first month of meetings between the parties were held almost in secret. The announcement of the surprise announcement was incoherent and spontaneous. Commissioner Monahan regrets the way he handled it. But Dunne was out front, doing interviews with him Sports Illustrated and ESPN and the Golf Channel, arguing that it was long past time for the sport to reunite its top players.

But only a frame was signed – an agreement to be made – which involved both parties withdrawing their ongoing litigation, at a time when Tour and LIV managers, players, agents, board members, etc., began to be removed. In his book, Dunne noted, “a way was created for the Tour to always control professional golf.”

Dunne himself testified in early July on Capitol Hill, as one of two visiting attorneys explaining the deal to the United States Senate’s Permanent Committee on Investigations. Why? Because there were antitrust concerns about the legitimacy of two competing organizations now doing business with each other, especially when Monahan called the move “taking a competitor off the board, and making him a partner, not an owner.” According to the agreement, the fate and future of LIV Golf had to be evaluated for its potential value to the game of golf as a whole, but Dunne was not willing to go anywhere. As documents in the investigation noted, Dunne and fellow Policy Board member Ed Herlihy had been considered (at least by Monahan) as potential figures to oversee LIV Golf.

The US senator was interested. The Department of Justice was interested. PGA Tour players have been incredibly interested. Many feel wronged by the secrecy of the agreement. Rory McIlroy, Dunne’s friend, said he felt like a sacrificial lamb. The touring players looked for answers from Monahan and didn’t get many that were descriptive. The date of Dec. 31, 2023, was set as the initial deadline for a Clear Agreement, but little, if any, progress has been made. Only the Policy Board — the highest-ranking role in PGA Tour governance — began to feel like giant musical chairs.

In late July, Tiger Woods was quickly added in what amounted to a coup. Forty-one of the best players on Tour demanded it in a midnight letter to Monahan, and a day later it was established. They wanted equal representation between players and independent directors on the board and they got it. Woods remains the only player without a time limit. In November, the head of Valero Energy, Joe Gorder, filled the vacant seat left by Randall Stephenson, who resigned in July saying he could not “in good conscience support” the deal.

Rory McIlroy and Jay Monahan.

What’s up with Rory McIlroy, Jay Monahan, Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour board?


Dylan Dethier

On the same day in mid-November, it was announced that McIlroy had resigned from his seat. Jordan Spieth came aboard. Charley Hoffman saw his term end on Jan. 1 and Adam Scott saw his debut. Monahan was added as a voting member in early March. Former player Joe Ogilvie was also a player coordinator. If that sounds like musical chairs, there’s a clear reason for that, given how many meetings and Zoom calls players have had with the media at various times this season. There seems to have been more movement in and out of the board than clarity on any of its decisions.

Dunne noted in his letter that he has not been involved with the Saudi PIF since June 2023, but noted during his testimony that he would support the players in the event of an agreement with the PIF. Are we close to what is happening? It depends on who you ask. Dunne feels that his role as an interviewer has become stale. DP World Tour CEO Guy Kinnings recently noted in April that all three parties to the original deal were not yet in the same room together. It was only in March that the players’ managers all gathered in the Bahamas to meet and greet Al-Rumayyan, a move Dunne himself made possible 11 months ago.

It has become clear that differences of opinion have delayed the board’s move in recent months. Webb Simpson recently made it clear that he wanted to withdraw his position, but only if it was not filled by McIlroy, who now felt ready to get involved again. That, Monahan noted, was against the Tour’s management policies, and was prohibited from happening. Instead, McIlroy was considered suitable for a position on the Transactions subcommittee of PGA Tour Enterprises, a for-profit company created in January when the Tour accepted a $1.5 billion investment from Strategic Sports Group.

“Since there was no special clause, the players had many options to seek foreign investors,” Dunne said in his resignation letter. “That led Strategic Sports Group to commit billions of dollars. I believe that history will look good on this result and the real opportunities now presented to the Tour. “

Just when that result brings real opportunities – such as formal investment from the PIF – remains to be seen. The potential deals are very palpable down the road than at the door. Pro golf continues with the second major men’s tournament of the season this week at the PGA Championship in Kentucky. Dunne continues to move from official PGA Tour meetings to a larger role behind the scenes, as a friend and mentor to many of the game’s most important people. He is a member of many of the sport’s true institutions – Augusta National, Shinnecock Hills, National Golf Links and Pine Valley – and will no doubt continue to connect people to the game. But he won’t vote or negotiate with the Tour about a joint future, despite all the work he’s done to make it happen. He concluded his letter with these words:

“I want to express my gratitude to all the Directors I have worked with in the last year and a half. We thank you all for your hard work and dedication during this difficult time. I want you to know that no one will be struggling for your success but me. Golf has given me more than I could give back, and for that, I will always be grateful.”

You can read the entire book below.

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