Golf-PGA of America boss calls for urgency in PIF deal

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Golf-PGA of America boss calls for urgency in PGA-PIF deal

By Frank Pingue

May 15 (Reuters)The PGA Tour and Saudi backers of LIV Golf need more urgency in reaching a deal to avoid the risk of causing irreparable harm to the sport, PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh said on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of this week’s PGA Championship, Waugh said the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) must finalise the framework agreement struck last June and suggested the lack of a deal has already caused damage.

“I’m a very optimistic type and I’m sort of hoping it’s darkest before dawn, if you will, but I think the best thing for the game is a deal,” Waugh told reporters at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

“I don’t think the game is big enough for two tours like that, and I think we are diluting the game in a way that is not healthy.”

The PGA of America, which is a separate organisation from the PGA Tour, runs the PGA Championship, Ryder Cup and many other events.

The framework agreement stunned the golf world and expired at the end of 2023 but the sides have been working to reach a deal, though many involved in the talks have said there is a long way to go to bring the fractured sport back together.

As each day passes without any notable progress, Waugh feels an already “messy” situation could get worse.

“I hope there’s urgency because I do think it’s doing damage to the Tour, to the game,” said Waugh. “I hope it’s short-term damage, as opposed to permanent damage, and so I hope there’s some urgency in the timing around it because I just don’t think it’s a healthy situation right now.”

The power struggle in men’s professional golf has been a theme in the leadup to the year’s second major, which marks one of the four times a year when players from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf get to compete against each other.

Earlier on Tuesday, world number two Rory McIlroy said he was growing even more concerned about the prospect of a deal being reached given Jimmy Dunne, the architect behind the agreement, resigned from the PGA Tour’s policy board on Monday.

In his resignation letter, Dunne said there had been “no meaningful progress” towards a transaction and called his role “utterly superfluous” as the players outnumber the Independent Directors on the board.

“I would say my confidence level on something getting done before last week was, you know, as low as it had been and then with this news of Jimmy resigning and knowing the relationship he has with the other side, and how much warmth there is from the other side, it’s concerning,” said McIlroy.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto
Editing by Toby Davis

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