Top PGA Officials Will Testify Before Congress About Golf’s Big Saudi-Backed Merger

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  • Two top PGA officials will testify before Congress about the association’s controversial merger.
  • Tour COO Rob Price is among the officials that will testify before a Senate subcommittee on July 11.
  • Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal is leading the probe.

A Senate investigation into the controversial PGA-LIV merge will proceed with testimony from two senior officials connected to the professional golf association, a sign that Capitol Hill still has questions about a huge deal that upended the pro level of the sport.

On Monday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the top Democrat on an investigations panel, and Sen. Ron Johnson, the top Republican, announced that PGA Tour COO Rob Price and PGA board member Jimmy Dunne will testify before their subcommittee on July 11. 

“We look forward to appearing before the Senate Subcommittee to answer their questions about the framework agreement that keeps the PGA TOUR as the leader of professional golf’s future and benefits our players, our fans, and our sport,” PGA Tour spokesperson Joel Schuchmann said in a statement to Insider.

Blumenthal and Johnson were unable to secure either Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan, the leader of Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund, or golf legend Greg Norman for the hearing. Norman played an integral role in LIV golf, enduring public criticism for taking on the PGA and partnering with Al-Rumayyan. But last month, the bet paid off handsomely when the PGA unexpectedly announced that it would merge with LIV following a protracted battle that saw the two sides tussling over the sport’s biggest names. LIV also brought an antitrust suit against the PGA.

Like the sports world, Capitol Hill was caught unprepared for the announcement. Some lawmakers had spent months railing against Saudi Arabia’s spotty human rights record and its readily apparent efforts to shift the conversation with its investment in LIV. The PGA had also echoed those same concerns before the reported nearly $500 million deal. 

“So weird. PGA officials were in my office just months ago talking about how the Saudis’ human rights record should disqualify them from having a stake in a major American sport,” Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat wrote on Twitter after the deal became public. “I guess maybe their concerns weren’t really about human rights?”

Blumenthal began his request for information about the deal less than a week after its announcement. 

“Critics have cast such Saudi investments in sports as a means of ‘sportswashing’ an attempt to soften the country’s image around the world—given Saudi Arabia’s deeply disturbing human rights record at home and abroad,” he wrote in a letter to PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan. “In fact, prior to this agreement, PGA Tour was one of the loudest critics of LIV Golf’s affiliation with Saudi Arabi.”

In a sign of how the sport itself is still digesting the news, Tiger Woods made his first comments about the merger on Sunday.

Wood’s brief statement was to deny a series of reports that the greatest golfer of all time had received prepared remarks to trash LIV during a 2022 meeting with other players. Woods denied ever receiving the remarks that are reportedly part of LIV’s antitrust suit.

Among the suggested talking points, according to Golf Digest, was for Woods to make an emphatic call to arms.

“Do what I did: tell the Saudis to go f— themselves. And mean it.”

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