The PGA Tour faced scrutiny over its deal with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league and defended it before senators. PGA Tour officials, Ron Price and Jimmy Dunne, testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s investigations subcommittee, but representatives from LIV Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund were absent. LIV CEO Greg Norman was out of the country. Price and Dunne expressed their belief that the PGA Tour would benefit the most from the deal and hoped that PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan would contribute to the game of golf in a more constructive manner. They also clarified that the tour did not actively seek out the Saudis and faced a real threat. The Senate panel is investigating the merger agreement between the two leagues, which has raised questions about the future of the tour and player sponsorships. Critics have accused LIV and the Saudis of “sportswashing” due to the Saudi government’s ties to 9/11 and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The proposed deal would create a for-profit subsidiary of the PGA Tour, with the new entity managing commercial assets for all the tours. Documents revealed that PCP Capital Partners proposed the agreement to PGA Tour officials. The subcommittee discovered that PGA Tour officials requested the dismissal of Greg Norman and marketing agency Performance54 from LIV Golf after the deal’s completion. The Saudi ties have sparked controversy, and former President Donald Trump faced criticism for hosting LIV events at his courses. The league has announced that its final event of the 2023 season will be held at Trump’s Doral course. While critics of the deal see it as trying to wash away controversial ties, others argue that the Saudis’ investment in the US is preferable to other countries like China or Russia. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan previously addressed controversies and discussed them with players. The tour defended the deal as the best option for the game of golf and acknowledged the controversial ties to Saudi Arabia during the Senate hearing. Dunne, who lost friends and colleagues during the 9/11 attacks, expressed his hope that the deal would unite the game of golf.
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