OAN’s Noah Herring
11:02 AM – Tuesday, July 11, 2023
The PGA Tour defended its decision to merge with LIV Golf in front of the Senate early on Tuesday morning.
The Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), began at 7 a.m. PT on Monday and lasted roughly three hours as they heard testimony from PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne.
The PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, had originally planned to appear before the Senate, however, due to a leave of absence regarding an unspecified medical situation, he was not able to show up. Monahan later announced that he would be returning to his role on July 17th.
Blumenthal urged the PGA Tour not to go through with the deal during the hearing, as he was the biggest critic of the merger. Republican Senator Ron Johnson was more supportive of the deal.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and the Saudi investment fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, reportedly did not appear due to scheduling conflicts.
The Senate panel is probing the agreement, which would merge commercial operations of the two leagues. The proposed deal prompted questions revolving around the future of the tour and its players’ sponsorships.
Many critics of the merger also have concerns about the Saudis’ ties to the 9/11 attacks. 15 of the 19 hijackers that day were originally from Saudi Arabia, and Osama Bin Laden, the terrorist purportedly behind the attacks, was also born in the country.
The merger was first announced in June and it shocked many fans of the sport, with some accusing LIV of “sports-washing,” or spreading government influence through sports.
Dunne and Price argued that the PGA Tour would benefit the most from their proposed deal. Dunne continued that if a deal were to go through, the tour would “definitely stay intact and becomes more powerful,” and added that he hoped AL-Rumayyan would have a “more productive role in the game of golf” in a more constructive way.
“We are in a situation where we faced a real threat … You could go elsewhere for $1 billion, $3 billion, maybe $50 billion,” Price said. “We could do it but if we went down that path, we would end up giving up total control.”
The hearing ended with Blumenthal expressing how they had “learned a lot,” and also communicating that the American people “need to learn more.”
It is unknown if representatives for the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund will testify in the future.
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