Rory McIlroy says PGA Tour is 'worse off' without Jimmy Dunne on board

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rory McIlroy believes the potential for a deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi backers of LIV Golf has stalled because board member Jimmy Dunne was left out of the mix, and the tour suffered a “huge loss” when Dunne decided to resign.

Dunne, a power broker on Wall Street and in golf circles, was a key player in getting PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to meet with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which ultimately led to the June 6 framework agreement that was never finalized.

Dunne resigned Monday, expressing frustration at a lack of progress by a player-heavy board and because he felt his input had become superfluous.

“I think it’s a huge loss for the PGA Tour if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game,” McIlroy said Wednesday ahead of the PGA Championship.

He referred to Dunne as the “conduit” between the PGA Tour and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor. Dunne had said he hasn't been consulted since last June.

“It's been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that,” McIlroy said. “It's really, really disappointing. I think the tour is in a worse place because of it. We’ll see where it goes from here and we’ll see what happens.”

Lucas Glover, on his SiriusXM show, also offered strong criticism of player involvement.

“For a long time the players were outnumbered on the board, 5-4. And a lot of players thought that it would never be our tour if we didn’t have the majority,” said Glover, a former U.S. Open champion. “Well, I think we’re seeing why it was that way now. We do have the majority and we have no business having the majority.

“Tour players play golf. Businessmen run businesses,” he said. “They don’t tell us how to hit 7-irons. We shouldn’t be telling them how to run a business.”

McIlroy resigned from the PGA Tour board in November, right before the tour settled on Strategic Sports Group as its best private equity option. SSG then became a minority investor in a deal initially worth $1.5 billion, potentially worth double that.

McIlroy thought he had a path back to the board when Webb Simpson wanted McIlroy to replace him. That idea was nixed last week, and Monahan appointed McIlroy to a committee that is directly involved with PIF discussions.

The tour has six players on the PGA Tour board, compared with five independent directors. On the PGA Tour Enterprises board — the commercial company in which SSG invested — there are six players and six independent directors (including Monahan). Former PGA Tour player Joe Ogilvie serves as a “liaison director.”

Glover said having too much player control is what led Dunne to resign at a time when the tour could use his expertise. Ed Herlihy, chairman of the PGA Tour Inc. board, also was involved with Dunne in setting up the Al-Rumayyan meeting. Herlihy is regarded as one of the top attorneys in mergers and acquisitions. He is not on the PGA Tour Enterprises board.

“It's scary because we’re about to launch a huge, huge, huge enterprise and a for-profit company that all the players are going to own a part of, and we don’t have the smartest possible people there to help us, guide us in the right direction,” Glover said on his Wednesday show.

“I think it’s time to look at our board setup again. It’s swayed too far the other way now," he said. "And these guys that play golf for a living, that think they know how to run a business, they need to look in the mirror and figure this out. Because I’m sad to say they’re wrong, and now they’ve run off Jimmy Dunne.”


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