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PGA Tour boss Jay Monahan says end of 2023 remains 'firm target' for completing agreement with Saudi PIF

The world of golf was stunned when a framework agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) was announced on June 6, with a deadline of December 31 set for a deal to be finalised

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 24: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan during the first round of the 2023 Tour Championship on August 24, 2023 at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Image: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan says there are no plans to push back a December 31 deadline to finalise a deal with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says the December 31 deadline outlined in the framework agreement with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund remains "a firm target" and that he plans to meet with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan next week.

Speaking at The New York Times DealBook Summit in New York City on Wednesday, Monahan acknowledged the tour is in discussions with multiple parties about potential investment in a new for-profit entity but that negotiations with PIF and the DP World Tour are ongoing.

"We're having conversations with multiple parties," Monahan said, per multiple reports. "The deadline for our conversations with PIF, as you know, is a firm target.

"I'll be with Yasir next week, and we continue to advance our conversations. And I think it's pretty well known that there's a large number of other interested parties that we're also pushing to think about."

Monahan's comments came amid speculation that the deadline for the agreement to be finalised may be extended.

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The tour has also been in discussions with other interested parties, most notably the Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool's owners. Investment firm KKR & Co. is another group reported to have had discussions with the tour.

Monahan said that a potential agreement with PIF may include at least one additional co-investor.

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"When this gets finalised, the PGA Tour is going to be in a position that I talked about earlier, where again, the athletes are owners in their sport, and you've got not only the PIF, but you've likely got another co-investor, with significant experience in business, in sport and brand that's going to help take the PGA Tour to another level and help us take share from other sports and even be more competitive," he said, per reports.

"What's most important to our players is that they go from the model of being independent contractors to being owners."

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Paul McGinley believes the option to be able to play on both the DP World Tour and PGA Tours will help golfers become better players going forward

The framework agreement came as a surprise announcement on June 6, with Monahan and Al-Rumayyan appearing together on television. The agreement was negotiated among a small group of people and rankled much of the PGA Tour's membership.

Eight days later, Monahan would begin a month-long medical leave due to anxiety and mental health concerns. He returned to his post on July 17.

"I think what's happening to me in my head around that timeframe was not too dissimilar to what was happening to me in my head in the months prior to it," Monahan said Wednesday. "This had been an extended conflict. It had affected me, my mental and my physical health."

Tiger 'frustrated' over handling of PGA Tour's agreement with Saudis

Tiger Woods, who had no knowledge of the framework agreement at the time of the announcement, has since joined the tour's policy board as a player director. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy left the board and was recently replaced by Jordan Spieth.

"Going back to that, I would say that my reaction was surprised as I'm sure a lot of the players were taken back by it, by what happened so quickly without any input or any information about it, it was just thrown out there," said Woods, who on Thursday returned to competitive action at the Hero World Challenge.

"We were very frustrated with what happened. We were all taken back by it. It happened so quickly without any of our involvement. No one knew. That can't happen again.

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"How we do that is having six player directors so we control the board and we control what we're going to do.

"I think Jay [Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner] has been a part of the direction, he understands what happened prior to that can't happen again and won't happen again, not with the players that are involved and not with the player directors having the role that we have."

Woods, who said he totally understood why McIlroy had stood down as a player-director earlier this month, is relishing the opportunity to have a "lasting impact" on the future of the PGA Tour as the future of LIV Golf and the players who joined the breakaway are decided.

"I think there is a way in which we can all benefit from team golf, it's just how do we do it? We're just trying to figure out that process now," Woods said.

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"We've been doing it for months, trying to figure out how that all works, what does that landscape even look like and where do we play and what impact does it have on our PGA Tour schedule?

"As far as a pathway [for LIV players], we're still working on that. There's so many different scenarios. That's why I said there's a lot of sleepless hours trying to figure that out. Everyone involved wants a return, that's just part of doing deals, but we have to protect the integrity of our Tour and what that stands for going forward."

'His voice holds a lot weight' - Scheffler 'extremely grateful' to Woods

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler says he's "extremely grateful" Tiger Woods has taken an active role in shaping the future of the professional game.

"He's doing a whole lot. Tiger's not someone that's going to go at anything 50 per cent, he's going to go 100 per cent into whatever he's doing and right now that's a lot of stuff for the tour," Scheffler said Wednesday.

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World No 1 Scottie Scheffler says he can't wait for Tiger Woods to make his highly anticipated return from injury at the Hero World Challenge

"He has our best interests in mind and he's not going to compromise when it comes to what's best for the players. His voice definitely holds a lot of weight. So for us as players, it's great to have him on our side, it's great that he wants to do this stuff."

Scheffler has not competed since the Ryder Cup in September and did not play a single event during the fall series. But he travelled to the Bahamas for this week's Hero World Challenge in part to knock some rust off his game, but also to support Woods, the tournament host.

"That's another thing, he doesn't have to do that. He could easily sail off into the sunset, never touch a club again, never do anything again, just go live his life and enjoy kind of the second half of his life and do whatever, hang out with his kids," Scheffler said.

"But he continues to come back and want to compete. He continues to do what's best for the players and the PGA Tour. So it's pretty inspirational for the rest of us that are involved in the game with what he's been doing right now."

Watch the Hero World Challenge throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 5.30pm on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more with NOW.

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