Chief Operating Officer Ron Price of the PGA Tour and Independent Director Jimmy Dunne of the PGA’s policy board testified for nearly three hours before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s investigations subcommittee in Washington, D.C., about the league’s proposed deal with LIV Golf, which is owned by the Saudi Arabian government.
LIV Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund were not present, including LIV President Greg Norman, who was out of the country according to sources.
Price and Dunne defended the controversial deal.
“We are in a situation where we faced a real threat … you could go elsewhere for $1 billion, $3 billion, maybe $50 billion,” Price said of the lucrative contract the PGA Tour is hoping to sign with LIV and the Saudis. “We could do it but if we went down that path, we would end up giving up total control.”
Members of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations used the hearing to question Price and Dunn on a number of issues related to the proposed deal with the Saudis and how it all came together.
Senators on both sides of the aisle expressed a number of concerns about the Saudi Arabian government attempting to seize power of an American sports league.
“This is a regime that has killed journalists, jailed and tortured dissidents, fostered the war in Yemen, and supported other terrorist activities, including 9/11,” subcommittee chairman Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said. “It’s called sportswashing.
“It is also about hypocrisy, and how vast sums of money can induce individuals and institutions to betray their own values and supporters, or perhaps reveal lack of values from the beginning. It’s about other sports and institutions that could fall prey–if their leaders let it be all about the money.
“We’re going to continue with this inquiry.”
Price, who claimed the PGA Tour would remain in control of its business, said the dollar amount of the deal “has not been determined, but it would be a significant amount. North of $1 billion. We have an agreement to possibly get to an agreement at some point down the road.
“They have an unlimited horizon and an unlimited amount of money. It isn’t like the product is better. It’s just that there’s a lot more money that will make people move.”
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who has been out of the office since June 13 because of an unspecified medical condition, was not in attendance at the hearing but is expected to return to his post soon.