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SBNation.com – All Posts: Tom Watson authors scathing letter to PGA Tour leadership, Jay Monahan


Tom Watson, PGA Tour
KANSAS CITY — Tom Watson looks on during the third round of the AdventHealth Championship at Blue Hills Country Club on May 20, 2023. | Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

Watson, who won eight major titles, has many questions about the PGA Tour’s agreement with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.

With the U.S. Open now in the rearview mirror, the golfing world returns its focus to the pending agreement between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF).

On the morning after Wyndham Clark hoisted the trophy, Tom Watson, one of the legends of the game, expressed his thoughts about this deal in a scathing letter to Jay Monahan and PGA Tour leadership.

“The communication has been mishandled, and the process by which the Tour agreed on a proposed partnership with PIF was executed without due process,” Watson wrote on Jun. 19. “As a group of players and stakeholders who represent the face and the brands of the Tour what are our choices?”

“Clearly, the Tour’s traditional business model was threatened by LIV. The upstart tour created unprecedented obstacles and battles of both moral and financial consequence.”

Jay Monahan, PGA Tour
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images
CROMWELL, Conn. — PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan addresses the media during a press conference prior to the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands on June 22, 2022.

The Jun. 6 announcement blindsided the entire sporting world. PGA Tour members and LIV Golfers were both shocked by the news. As were members of the golfing media.

Monahan worked alongside PGA Tour board members Jimmy Dunne and Ed Herlihy to secretly broker this deal with Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF.

Like many in professional golf, Watson has a slew of questions, stemming from what the PGA Tour players will receive as a part of this deal to reinstating former PGA Tour members.

He brings up Saudi Arabia’s role in the global economy, which continues to grow.

“I realize the United States has diplomatic relations with the Saudis, and they have occasionally been our allies in the Middle East,” Watson notes. “It is my further understanding that many businesses, including some professional sports leagues, have strict guidelines on the percentage of investment they will accept from sovereign funds.”

“Before this agreement is finalized, I wonder, does the PGA Tour have guidelines? Have we, as a body, defined an acceptable percentage of PIF funding in the proposed partnership?”

Watson—as does most of the golfing world—wants answers. So do members of Congress and high-profile Senators, who have also expressed concern about this deal.

Tom Watson, PGA Tour, The Open Championship
Photo by R&A via Getty Images
TURNBERRY, Scotland — Tom Watson walks down the 9th hole during The 138th Open Championship held on the Ailsa Course at Turnberry from July 16-19, 2009.

The PGA Tour leadership has a lot of explaining to do. It also has a lot of work to do to build a framework that will work for professional golf in the future.

Yet, the Department of Justice (DOJ) may block this deal, as it may violate antitrust laws and threaten American national security.

But it also stabs the hearts of many affected by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

“I still await Saudi acknowledgment of their role in the attacks of 9/11,” Watson writes. “That say, forever among the darkest in our nation’s history, is sadly not alone among the human rights violation we have seen employed by Saudi Arabia.”

“I ask the Tour, how is a non-negotiable point for us one day one we negotiate around the next?”

9/11 Families United vehemently slammed Monahan and the tour immediately following the announcement of this partnership. Others have criticized PGA Tour leadership too, calling Monahan a hypocrite.

Less than a year ago, Monahan sided with 9/11 Families United on national television.

Now, things are much different as he stunningly reversed course. The move angered many, including Watson.

“My loyalty to golf and this country live in the same place and have held equal and significant weight with me over my lifetime,” Watson said. “Please educate me and others in a way that allows loyalty to both and in a way that makes it easy to look 9/11 families in the eye and ourselves in the mirror.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_playingthrough too.

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