PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sent a letter off to Congress last week that seemed to blame the inaction of lawmakers for a Saudi Arabia backed LIV Golf merger/deal with the PGA.
“While we are grateful for the written declarations of support we received from certain members, 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. This left the very real prospect of another decade of expensive and distracting litigation and the PGA TOUR’s long-term existence under threat.”
Monahan also tried to explain that the deal was not a merger between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Monahan downplayed the size of the investment of the PIF and said the PGA will be the major investor in the new entity.
Lawmakers responded with confusion and disbelief.
“That is the biggest bunch of bullshit I have ever heard,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Kaine was remembering Monahan’s previous criticism of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, declaring the PGA stood strongly against the Saudi’s record. “When you’re in a hole, stop digging. And he is making himself and this whole thing look worse and worse and worse with everything he says,” Kaine added.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said after reading the letter that Monahan seemed “totally disingenuous.”
“But we’re determined to uncover and show the American public whether there was wrongdoing here, all of the facts related to who initiated and who supported this takeover by LIV — or I should say, by the Saudi government — of the PGA and this cherished American institution, because that takeover puts a great risk [to] our national interest,” Blumenthal said.
On Wednesday, Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (R-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked the Justice Department to investigate the merger over antitrust concerns, echoing some of Blumenthal’s worries. “The PGA-LIV deal would make a U.S. organization complicit — and force American golfers and their fans to join this complicity — in the Saudi regime’s latest attempt to sanitize its abuses by pouring funds into major sports leagues,” they wrote.
Ohio Senator J.D. Vance also chimed in on the letter and referred to Monahan’s criticism of the golfers who had joined the LIV tour as a backhanded slight to the families of September 11 victims.
“I mean, come on. The guy is such an obvious charlatan,” Vance said. “He has no no moral standing to talk about this stuff. And I think he would have done himself and the PGA a big service if he had just shut up a year ago.”