Happy June 6th to all who celebrate. A year has passed since Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan shocked the golf world in a joint appearance on CNBC, announcing they’d come to terms on a deal. Of course, they hadn’t come to terms, but they’d reached a Framework Agreement designed to ultimately reunify the game of golf. Both sides agreed to drop all litigation against one another with prejudice. 

Now that we’ve reached June 6th, 2024, surely all the details of a final deal have been fleshed out, right? Well, about that. Twelve months removed from the announcement of the Framework Agreement, no deal has been reached. It’s unclear how much progress has even been made. 

On the anniversary of a historic day in professional golf, Brendan Porath and Joseph LaMagna convened to give a couple thoughts each on the June 6th announcement and its aftermath. 

Biggest Unanswered Question 

Brendan: All of them? I mean, there were so many ridiculous suppositions and conclusions in the immediate aftermath of what was an actual bombshell. Yasir now works for Jay, or maybe it’s the other way around. The two have merged. LIV golf is dead. Tour leadership used the players. Jay used 9/11 families. The rollout kicked off a year of those involved being put on the back foot and having to defend themselves while trying to avoid figurative execution. Jimmy Dunne is gone. Jay is, as new board member and potential gunner for the commissioner’s throne Joe Ogilvie said last week, a “survivor.” We had very little of substance on any of this at the time, and that’s still the case after a year of recrimination and fact-finding about how it went down and was rolled out. It was a piece of paper worth very little, an agreement to try and agree on…something. Not much progress has been made in the way of that.

So all the questions remain mostly unanswered a year on. I suppose the one that is definitively answered is how worthless that December 31st, 2023 deadline was as a push to get both sides to hammer the framework into a final agreement. There are many sticking points, DOJ inquiries, and thorns that need to be removed, but one massive unanswered question for me on how this all works is where team golf slots into the future. This seems to be a sticking point for Yasir Al-Rumayyan. He likes team golf, or the idea of it. He wants it to continue. There is no current apparatus on the PGA Tour to conceive of such a scheme, let alone integrate it. There’s that whole TGL idea, but that’s indoors and has not actually gotten off the ground. 

I think team golf, maybe precisely as LIV is structured now, will persist. But how that all shakes out if an actual agreement or merger takes place remains a major question, with minimal clarity on potential answers.

Joseph: Four days after the June 6th Framework Agreement was announced, the Wall Street Journal reported that “One person familiar with the agreement said that during the negotiations, Al-Rumayyan had offered to drop the litigation even if they didn’t enter into a pact…” This reporting leaves important questions unanswered about why the PGA Tour entered into the Framework Agreement. 

Since June 6th, many people on the PGA Tour side have referenced the mounting fees associated with the litigation between LIV and the PGA Tour as a reason for why the Tour needed to reach a deal. As recently as a week ago, PGA Tour Policy Board and PGA Tour Enterprises board member Joe Ogilvie said in a Golfweek Q&A, with respect to board chair Ed Herlihy, that he “was a big part of ending the litigation, which is incredibly helpful.” 

Both things can’t be true. It cannot be true that Al-Rumayyan offered to drop all litigation even if a deal was not reached and that the reason the PGA Tour needed to reach a deal was due to mounting expenses associated with the litigation. As soon as Al-Rumayyan offered to drop the litigation without reaching a deal, litigation expenses cannot be part of the justification for entering into a deal. If the Tour saw value in a partnership beyond stopping the fees associated with the litigation, then many of those motivations must still remain true. Yet, some of the folks on the PGA Tour side today don’t seem particularly motivated to reach a deal in the near future with the Saudi PIF. There seems to be some dissonance in the way the PGA Tour has handled the last 12 months, to put it mildly.  

Is this the most important detail in all of the events surrounding the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF? No, probably not, but the PGA Tour’s inability to keep its own story straight as to why they made the deal only adds to the narrative that the Tour’s leadership has been highly dysfunctional. 

Of course, it’s also possible that Al-Rumayyan never offered to drop all litigation independent of a deal, and that the reporting here was incorrect. But assuming the Wall Street Journal sourced this detail accurately, it raises some questions that remain unresolved. 

The Shotgun Start goes in-depth on June 6th, how it went down, the immediate reactions, and all the absurdity of a “massive” day that left mostly unanswered questions and wreckage in their annual Year in Review series.

Most Amusing Detail in Retrospect 

Brendan: So, so many. This was clearly a sensitive issue that needed to be kept within a small circle. But the initial rollout plans, the slapdash result, and the detached-from-reality expectations for how it would be received are some of the more amusing details to look back on now. As we’d learn in the document dump from the Senate subcommittee hearings about a month later, the news was supposed to be shared with various tiers of importance over the course of a few days, starting on the Friday prior and rolling into Tuesday, June 6. This included an internal communication with the player directors on the Policy Board, tournament directors, Tour stakeholders, networks, and more. The players, as a whole, were to be told before a taped interview went up on CNBC. None of that really happened. Instead, pretty much the whole world found out via Twitter and the interview on CNBC, a network which has become a frequent “crime scene” for Monahan in recent years.

Most amusing, however, were the documents outlining the approach that called for Monahan and DP World Tour commissioner Keith Pelley to call some VIP players and sponsors that Tuesday morning, with statements of support projected to follow from ……….. Roger Goodell, Fred Ridley, and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicalli. What!? In what WORLD was that ever going to happen on June 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, or any week in the immediate aftermath of this very thorny, shocking, minefield of a development? Crafting a rollout plan that included a PR push from Roger Goodell and Fred Ridley swerving into this situation unnecessarily in order to offer support and commendations. Amusing.

It is indicative of the relative unpreparedness or incompetence of the communications around this major move, and it’s been a whack-a-mole game of catch-up ever since, with plenty of contradictions, errors, and changes. Embarrassments. A narrative of dysfunction. And no deal.

Joseph: As far as I’m concerned, the funniest part of the battle between the Saudi PIF and the PGA Tour was the publication of documents from a Florida lawsuit that were leaked last summer on Twitter shortly after June 6th. Within those documents, it was revealed that the PGA Tour had prepared talking points for Jay Monahan and Tiger Woods to deliver to PGA Tour players at a town hall at the 2022 Travelers Championship. 

The most amusing parts were where Tiger was supposed to ask PGA Tour staff to leave the room before heaping praise upon Jay Monahan and the job he’s done, including lines like “Jay is working his ass off” and that “he’s the right guy for this war.” With respect to the PGA Tour golfers who left for LIV, Tiger was scripted to say “It makes me sick and I hope it makes you sick, too.” Other highlights include scripting Tiger to suggest that he wants his son Charlie to inherit an improved version of the existing PGA Tour product if he goes on to become a pro golfer. And finally, Tiger was supposed to instruct his fellow tour players to “do what (he) did: tell the Saudis to go f— themselves.” 

Ultimately, Tiger took to social media to deny ever seeing the prepared talking points. Within his post, he mentioned that he didn’t even attend the meeting for which the talking points were prepared at the 2022 Travelers Championship. But I will never forget the ridiculousness of PGA Tour brass preparing talking points for Tiger Woods about how amazing Jay Monahan is. All of these comments are especially hilarious now that the PGA Tour is actively trying to negotiate with the Saudi PIF. 

A whole lot of tomfoolery has gone down on the PGA Tour’s end over the past few years, and these talking points are an amusing representation of the incompetence at the highest ranks of PGA Tour leadership.