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Tiger Woods takes on new, more powerful role in PGA Tour hierarchy

As the PGA Tour presses forward with outside investment, Tiger Woods will have a significant say in its direction.

Jay Monahan and Tiger Woods, seen here in 2018, will have significant roles in the PGA Tour going forward. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Jay Monahan and Tiger Woods, seen here in 2018, will have significant roles in the PGA Tour going forward. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR) (Stan Badz via Getty Images)

Tiger Woods' impact on the course is rapidly diminishing. But his impact on the future of golf is growing at an exponential rate. Woods is one of the key figures in the PGA Tour's newly created for-profit venture, PGA Tour Enterprises, established in conjunction with major investor Strategic Sports Group.

The Tour has spent most of the last two years trying to defend itself from the existential threat of LIV Golf and the vast wealth of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund. PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan's decision to ally with, rather than continue to fight, the PIF last summer enraged Tour players. The agreement was made with no input from, and almost no notice to, the Tour's players, including Woods.

The players, led by Woods, flexed their muscle and called for more transparency into the Tour's operations, as well as a voice in the Tour's future direction. Combined with the $1.5 billion investment from SSG — a collective of sports owners and investors — the Tour now has the ability to route more revenue to itself and its players. The Tour had been fighting an increasingly treacherous battle against LIV, trying to compete on financial terms with a sovereign wealth fund with, in effect, limitless resources.

PGA Tour Enterprises' board will have nine members from the Tour, with six of those going to current player directors: Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Peter Malnati, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson and Jordan Spieth. Monahan will receive one of the board positions. The final four will go to members of the SSG collective: John W. Henry of Fenway Sports Group, Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons, Andrew Cohen of the New York Mets, and Sam Kennedy of the Boston Red Sox. Woods will be a vice chairman of the board, with Monahan serving as the venture's CEO.

"I believe we have arrived at a PGA Tour Enterprise’s board of directors with the right composition, expertise and balance necessary to take our organization into the future,” Monahan said in a statement. “Our current and former players will provide essential insight into our members’ priorities and needs. And we welcome key SSG members to the leadership team, whose exceptional track records and achievements in global professional sports will lend a wealth of knowledge into the opportunities ahead for the PGA Tour."

This is good news for the Tour's financial stability, and very good news for players, who stand to reap considerable riches with higher purses and equity opportunities in the new venture. As for fans, this doesn't appear to offer any substantial new benefit, apart from the Tour being able to continue to function and, in theory, retain many of the world's best players. The question of value — whether golf as a sport and the Tour players as stars are worth the $1.5 billion pouring into the Tour — is an open-ended question.

Also unknown: the fate of the Tour's agreement with the PIF. When the agreement was announced in June, the Tour and the PIF were said to be forming an organization very similar to this iteration of PGA Tour Enterprises. The Tour has indicated that the PIF is welcome to invest in this new venture, but talks between the two toward a formal agreement — which had a self-imposed deadline of Dec. 31 — have apparently slowed significantly. LIV Golf is continuing to poach players from the Tour, most notably Jon Rahm, but LIV faces substantial obstacles of its own in attempting to get its players into golf's majors.