While it’s unclear how close it actually is to being finalized, Jordan Spieth doesn’t think that the PGA Tour needs to strike a deal with LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund anymore.
Spieth, speaking after the Tour announced a $3 billion investment deal with Strategic Sports Group on Wednesday,
“I don’t think that it’s needed,” Spieth said Wednesday from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. “I think the positive thing would be a unification [for the sport] … But the idea is that we have a strategic partner that allows the PGA Tour to go forward the way it’s operating right now without anything else with the option of other investors.”
The Tour announced Wednesday that SSG was investing up to $3 billion into the Tour. That deal will lead to the launch of PGA Tour Enterprises, a commercial venture under the Tour’s control that players can have equity in. The investment will entitle players to over $1.5 billion in equity shares.
The PIF, which backs LIV Golf, is not included in this deal — though it “allows for a co-investment from the Public Investment Fund in the future subject to all necessary regulatory approval.” The Tour and LIV Golf still have not finalized their partnership, something that was supposed to be done before the end of 2023. LIV Golf is launching its season this week in Mexico.
“I think the coolest thing about it is the players are now owners,” Spieth said. “So not only do they benefit with the Tour, they now are equity owners so they want to push it themselves, they want to make the product better themselves. Not that they didn't before, but you directly benefit from owning a piece. So I think that part is maybe the coolest part of the funding.”
So for now, the Tour will continue on as scheduled — though it will do so with more money to help fund purses and pay players, something it can now do without having to rely on Saudi Arabian funding. Spieth, who joined the Tour’s player policy board after Rory McIlroy stepped down late last year, is in the field this week at Pebble Beach, which is the second designated event of the season.
The Tour and LIV Golf may come to terms on their agreement eventually. But now, thanks to the deal with SSG, the Tour is in a much better spot financially. If The Tour and LIV Golf are going to come together, Spieth said, it will be because both sides benefit.
“At this point if the PIF were interested in coming in on terms that our members like and/or the economic terms are at or not beyond SSGs and they feel it would be a good idea, I think that's where the discussions will start,” Spieth said.
“I understand it could take some time to even come to those kind of terms … I hope that this starts to turn the corner and [people] recognize that we're in a place where we could be better than we've ever been as a tour.”