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Jay Monahan: Congress left PGA Tour ‘on our own’ against Saudis

In a letter sent to Congress two days after the PGA Tour announced a groundbreaking agreement with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Tour commissioner Jay Monahan pushed back on lawmakers who are now questioning the circuit’s decision to work with the PIF.

“During this intense battle, we met with several members of Congress and policy experts to discuss the PIF’s attempt to take over the game of golf in the United States, and suggested ways that Congress could support us in these efforts … we were largely left on our own to fend off the attacks, ostensibly due to the United States’ complex geopolitical alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Monahan wrote in the letter which was obtained by Politico.

Multiple lawmakers – including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who sent a letter to Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman Monday requesting more information about the deal – have challenged the “framework” agreement as “sportswashing” and questioned how the new for-profit entity will impact the Tour’s tax-exempt status.

Richard Blumenthal also claims the move by the PIF, which is controlled by the Saudi government, is an attempt at sports washing.

In the two-page letter, Monahan explained the details of the agreement and pointed out the Tour will “retain administrative oversight of golf tournaments.”

“Let me be clear that despite numerous reports, this arrangement is not a merger between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the PIF.” Monahan wrote.

The Tour will maintain a majority of seats on the board of the new entity with the PIF’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, serving as chairman.

“After a divisive battle spanning two years including extensive ligation that divided our great sport, we have decided on an arrangement that will end the divisiveness and grow the sport of golf, while preserving the PGA Tour as the primary organizing entity for men’s professional tournament golf,” he wrote.

Blumenthal – who is chairman of the permanent subcommittee on Investigations – requested any information regarding the agreement between the Tour and the PIF, any communication relating to the agreement between board members and executive management for both organizations and any internal communications about how the agreement could impact the Tour’s tax-exempt status.