SAN FRANCISCO – Patrick Cantlay, who helped approve a new PGA Tour investment deal worth up to US$3 billion (S$4 billion), said on Feb 1 that the group of US sports team owners involved will help decide any merger deal with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Cantlay was among the PGA Tour Policy Board players who unanimously approved the Strategic Sports Group (SSG) funding and creation of the new for-profit PGA Tour Enterprises announced on Jan 31.

He said that ongoing PGA Tour merger talks with PIF – backers of the LIV Golf League – have a new factor to consider as they seek a final deal in the wake of the framework agreement reached last June.

“The PGA Tour is definitely stronger after having this deal go through,” the American said.

“As far as PIF, I haven’t been having any real conversations myself about that, so that’s a question for down the road for the board and also for the Newco (PGA Tour Enterprises) board to decide.”

The new for-profit group consists of several US sports team owners and their inclusion could delay any bid to reunite golf’s top players – from the PGA and DP World tours and LIV Golf – under one tour.

Cantlay also said that SSG will add expertise in investments to grow the sport, but want some control in where the funds are spent.

“Anytime someone makes a sizeable investment like that, they are going to be watching over the investment,” he said.

“But we’ll really lean on their expertise to try to grow the sport.”

While the SSG deal is settled, the PGA Tour also confirmed the PIF merger talks were making progress and the PIF would be allowed to invest in PGA Tour Enterprises, subject to US lawmakers’ inquiries into Saudi investments in US sports businesses.

Meanwhile, LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman has vowed that his series is going “full steam ahead” despite the confirmation of the SSG deal and with LIV Golf’s future uncertain.

Norman, in a letter to LIV Golf staff obtained by The Golf Channel, said: “Nothing announced by other tours or investment groups changes LIV Golf’s positive trajectory or future plans.”

He also took credit for creating the atmosphere that set up the PGA Tour deal with SSG.

“This broader interest and commitment to the game and investment in its future would not have happened without the emergence of LIV Golf as an innovative force in the golf ecosystem,” he added.

LIV Golf chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan sent a letter on the same day as well to LIV Golf players, assuring them the PIF “remains committed to investing in and supporting LIV”. AFP, REUTERS

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