Fenway Sports, the owners of Liverpool FC, have moved a step closer to becoming significant partners in golf’s new world order having been chosen as the investors Tiger Woods and the rest of the PGA Tour policy board wish to negotiate with from now on.
The announcement from the Tour came in the wake of Jon Rahm’s £450 million move to LIV last week. Inevitably, the timing made many wonder if the Saudi sovereign wealth fund was preparing to be cut loose by the Tour in merger negotiations.
But sources insist that the choice of Fenway is positive news for harmony in the game. The Strategic Sports Group – a consortium of American financiers led by Anfield owners John Henry and Tom Werner – has close ties with the Middle East. SSG also already has connections in Saudi Arabia.
The fact the Tour’s policy board, which has been riven by stories of player unrest, were so quick to release the news of its favoured American private equity investors suggests that a pathway is being opened to allow meaningful and substantive discussion between Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Public Investment Fund governor and LIV chairman, later this week.
“We also anticipate advancing our negotiations with PIF in the weeks to come,” the memo to the Tour’s professionals read. “Please know that while we can’t get into more details at this time, we are very confident in an eventual, positive outcome for all players and the PGA Tour as a whole.
“Further, the DP World Tour will continue to be an important part of the process as we build toward PGA Tour Enterprises [the name given to the for-profit entity that will include the Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf].”
The Tour pared the list of potential investors before informing their membership that SSG was the winner. SSG includes owners of the Atlanta Falcons, New York Mets, Boston Celtics and Chicago Cubs. Others in the group include Gerry Cardinale, the MD of RedBird Capital which owns AC Milan and 25 per cent of Redbird IMI, the Abu Dhabi-owned investment group which is currently trying to take control of Telegraph Media Group and the Spectator.
LIV is inevitably front and centre in the male professional game at the moment – and perhaps more so than at any time during the two-year breakaway saga. The effects are clearly being felt on the leaderboards as well, especially on the European circuit.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, won the weather-delayed Alfred Dunhill Championship on the edge of Kruger Park on Monday, making it four LIV winners in the first five events of the wraparound DP World Tour season.
The likes of Oosthuizen, Dean Burmester and Joaquin Niemann were allowed to tee it up in the past month because the events were jointly-promoted with either the South African or Australian tours.