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Jimmy Dunne, Architect of PGA Tour-PIF Framework Agreement, Resigns From Tour Board


Jimmy Dunne, one of the architects of the PGA Tour’s framework agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund, resigned from the tour’s policy board on Monday, effective immediately. In a letter to the council he obtained it sports Illustrated, Dunn wrote that “no tangible progress has been made toward concluding a deal with the PIF,” and that since the players took control of the board and excluded it from negotiations, “my vote and role have become completely unnecessary.”

Dunn’s resignation comes nearly a year after PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan The golf world was stunned by the framework agreement. Initially pitched as a “merger,” the framework agreement was in fact an outline of a deal that would allow the Tour to determine the future of the Public Investment Fund-financed LIV Golf.

Al-Rumayyan planned to invest more than $1 billion in the company that later became PGA Tour Enterprises. He also agreed to drop the lawsuit against the tour “with prejudice,” meaning the lawsuits cannot be refiled. The agreement stipulated that Al-Rumayyan would become president of PGA Tour Enterprises and that the Public Investment Fund would receive one seat on the tour’s policy council.

Dunn, Monahan, and Policy Council Chairman Ed Herlihy negotiated this agreement in secret. Most of the tour players were Stunned by Monahan’s transformation and unhappy About finding out from the media. This anger swirled around the process of completing the deal. Neither Dunne nor Herlihy are in “Transactions Subcommittee” Which is negotiating with the Public Investment Fund. It’s generally accepted within the Tour that Monahan has been flirting with unemployment since last June.

“It is important for the Board to avoid allowing yesterday’s controversies to interfere with today’s decisions,” Dunn wrote, “especially when they impact future opportunities on the Tour. Unifying professional golf is critical to regaining fan interest and repairing the wounds left by a broken game. I did my best To push all minds in this direction.

Interestingly, Dunne said his role was now redundant as “players now outnumber independent directors on the board”.

In an attempt to calm angry players, Monahan He added a seat on Tiger Woods’ board of directors last summer. Last fall, Rory McIlroy, who expressed frustration at the slow pace of negotiations, resigned from the board. He was replaced by Jordan Spieth.

badCiting multiple sources, it was reported in December that board members Patrick Cantlay, Woods and Spieth formed an alliance, with Cantlay as leader. Cantlay told Golf.com that it would be “impossible” for one player to have that much power. Spieth laughed off bad “It’s been very communal since I jumped in. It’s not even something… (Cantlay) is like the rest of us, we’re all in agreement,” he told the Associated Press.

But this spring when Webb Simpson tried to resign and give his seat to McIlroy This step is blocked. “There was a subset of people on the board that were probably uncomfortable with me coming back for some reason,” McIlroy said. Simpson retained his seat and then Monahan bypassed the board and added McIlroy to the Transaction Subcommittee.

The agreement was scheduled to expire on December 31. It initially included a clause stating that LIV would not poach any of the tour’s players, but the tour entered into this clause as a pre-emptive attempt to alleviate the US Department of Justice’s antitrust concerns. Talks moved so slowly that in December, instead of finalizing the deal with the tour, Al-Rumayyan signed the tour’s star Jon Rahm to play with LIV.

The player managers did not even meet with Al-Rumayyan until March, nine months after the framework agreement was announced. Before that meeting, Cantlay said, “I’m going into the first meeting with the idea of ​​listening a lot more than talking.”

Last fall, the board turned to Raine Capital to guide negotiations. Ren helped strike Round A $3 billion deal with Strategy Sports Group in January. But more than four months later, it is not clear where the round negotiations with the Public Investment Fund are headed.

Monahan said in March that the talks were “accelerating.” “I don’t know if we’re closer, but we’re headed in the right direction,” Woods said in April. McIlroy has pushed for an agreement with the Public Investment Fund. “I don’t think there’s a need for that” now that the tour has a deal with SSG, though he remained open to it, Spieth said.

Now Den is out. Of the seven members of the deal subcommittee, only Monahan and McIlroy had formal roles last June, and only Monahan participated in the framework agreement negotiations.

Reaching an agreement with the Public Investment Fund would be controversial because of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. But if the player managers are morally opposed to it, they have not said so, and have repeatedly stated that they are willing to do a deal if they like the terms.

“When I came to the board in January 2023, everyone involved in the game was concerned about the fundamental threat posed by LIV Golf,” Dunn wrote in his resignation letter. “At Commissioner Monahan’s direction, I engaged LIV’s majority owner, the Public Investment Fund, to see if we could put an end to the lawsuits and reunite the game. Most importantly, we were able to reach an agreement whereby the lawsuits were dismissed with prejudice and the A path for the Tour to remain dominant in professional golf. I believe history will look favorably on this result and the very real opportunities now available to the Tour.

Dear fellow directors,

After much consideration about my role on the PGA Tour Policy Board, I have decided that the time has come to step down, and therefore I will resign effective immediately.

When I arrived on the board in January 2023, everyone involved was concerned about the fundamental threat posed by LIV Golf. They have attracted some of our best players, including several major champions. It was clear that a break would be hugely damaging to our game and the Tour. Furthermore, the Tour was involved in burdensome litigation that was expensive, unwelcome, and uncertain. As directed by Commissioner Monahan, I have engaged LIV’s majority owner, Public Investment Fund, to see if we can end the lawsuits and get the game back together. Most importantly, we were able to reach an agreement whereby the lawsuits with prejudice were dismissed and a path was created for the Tour to remain in control of professional golf. Since there was no exclusivity clause, players had a full range of options to look for outside investors. This led to a multi-billion dollar commitment from the strategic sports group. I think history will look favorably on this result and the very real opportunities now available for the Tour.

As you know, I have not been asked to participate in negotiations with the PIF since June 2023. During my testimony at the Senate hearing, I said that I intended to cast my vote alongside the player managers if a final agreement was reached. With the Public Investment Fund. Since the number of players now outnumbers the independent directors on the Board, and no tangible progress has been made toward a deal with the PIF, I feel that my vote and role are completely unnecessary.

It is important for the Board to avoid letting yesterday’s controversies interfere with today’s decisions, especially when they affect future opportunities for the Tour. Consolidating professional golf is crucial to regaining fan interest and repairing the wounds left by a broken game. I have done my best to move all minds in this direction.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the Board members with whom I have served over the past year and a half. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication during this difficult time. I want you to know that no one will work harder for your success than me. Golf has given me so much more than I can ever give back, and for that I will always be grateful.

sincerely,
Jimmy Dunne



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