After more than a year of high-stakes jockeying and long-distance accusations, Jay Monaghan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan finally met in May for a blind date in a cafe or hotel in Venice. rice field.
Now, the strangest of our compatriots are trying to reshape the future of professional golf and repair the damage done by the year-long civil war they once fought against each other.
The 53-year-olds in charge couldn’t be any different. Monaghan is the American commissioner of the PGA Tour. and Al Rumayyan, confidant of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and overseer of the country’s giant public investment fund.
that is the fund, which it claims is worth nearly $700 billion, was introduced to golf last Tuesday. The decision put an end to a complicated legal dispute between the PGA’s US and European Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tour. This immediately resolved the PGA Tour’s financial woes.
From now on, Mr. Al Rumayyan will be the chairman of the organization. Mr. Monaghan will become the chief executive. One of the many complex issues this raises concerns internal logistics. How will this unlikely duo manage and pull off the game of golf, on and off the course?
Monaghan has deep roots in New England and a background in sports marketing. His leadership style is as quiet as a golf crowd waiting for the winning putt.
“I enjoy all forms of human relationships.” He told Golf Digest in 2017:. “I often talk to people, listen to them, or just observe them. Broadly, because their situation is so dynamic, it’s kind of a requirement of the job I’m in. Their needs and goals can be material, but they’re the ones who get us there. is a human interaction.”
Al Rumayyan, a cash-carrying vandal with a deep passion for golf, puts Mr. Monaghan’s interpersonal skills to the test. Indeed his “needs and goals” are material.
Al Rumayyan will hold only one of the (currently) 11 seats, PGA TOUR Board of Directors, he and the Wealth Fund have exclusive rights to invest in the new entity. So they control the finances and plan to spend billions of dollars on them.
In his only public appearance since announcing the merger last week, he said: The final episode aired on CNBC As the two sat side by side, al-Rumayyan said he would let Monaghan lead the operation.
He pointed out that the “voting system” and the majority of the board “are not going to cooperate with us.”
But Al Rumayyan’s very existence, and the agreement itself, which is just a framework that could take months to formalize so far, is a powerful reminder that money can win all.
“The Saudis would like to control this,” said James M. Dorsey, an adjunct senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Relations in Singapore. “They don’t like to play second fiddle, and they believe money speaks for no reason.”
It is unclear what kind of takeover leader Al Rumayyan will be. His PIF portfolio is huge, and he is chairman of dozens of state-owned companies, including oil giant Saudi Aramco and mining company Marden. He largely lets management run as they see fit.
But his relationship with English football team Newcastle United may offer the best tip for golf.
PIF has purchased an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle United in 2021. The English club’s fans were quick to welcome the change of ownership as the prospects for on-field success overcame thorny doubts. Newcastle, infused with PIF money provided by Al Rumayyan, are on their way to the top of the English Premier League.
At Newcastle, he has let others make his day-to-day decisions, but he hasn’t gone from low profile to quickly approving spending on staff upgrades.
He shows up at games from time to time. (Compare this to the mostly absentee ownership of Manchester City by UAE’s Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan. it was in the news on saturday He kicks a ball on the team’s field and is photographed in the dressing room.
But Al Rumayyan has more passion for golf. In his favorite project, his LIV, he is known as HE, after his Excellency, and has a considerable public presence.At last year’s LIV event in Bedminster, New Jersey, Al Rumayyan said: Obsessed with former President Donald J. Trump, course owner. At one point, Al Rumayyan wore the “Make America Great Again” hat.
But most people don’t expect him to have a public, public presence in golf or become a familiar figure at trophy awards ceremonies. Part of it is his portfolio. He has many other business responsibilities.
“How much time should he allocate?” said Dorsey. “This is the man at the top of the empire. He oversees a vast range of things. At least when things settle down, you’ll see a lot of his lieutenants, but you won’t see him very often.” Let’s go.”
Part of it is Saudi culture. Given Prince Mohammed’s autocratic leadership, he “has to walk a fine line,” said Christian Ulrichsen, a Middle East researcher at the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University.
“Bin Salman doesn’t like people stepping on his toes if it seems too big and looks like Mr. Saudi,” Ulriksen said. “But we have also seen that Al Rumayyan is perhaps the most trusted and most capable member of his entourage.”
Al Rumayyan was a little-known bank executive when King Abdullah died in 2015. Power is concentrated around Crown Prince Mohammed, who soon launched Vision 2030, an ambitious transformation of Saudi Arabia and its reputation. Part of that included building his PIF as a diversification vehicle to expand the global capital economically and culturally.
Prince Mohammed has imprisoned and abused hundreds of elites and handed over responsibility for the fund to Al Rumayyan in an attempt to clean out an aging elite he felt was limiting his country’s ambitions.
Continued human rights abuses and the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi have made Saudi Arabia a global marginalist on orders from Crown Prince Mohammed, the Central Intelligence Agency said.
But under Al Rumayyan’s guidance, the investment fund has grown exponentially.
Investing in sports in particular has proven to be an effective reputation wash, called sportswash. The culmination of that effort could be the acquisition of Golf, announced the same week that Secretary of State Antony J. Brinken visited Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed.
“This was part of establishing Saudi Arabia on the world stage,” Ulriksen said of Saudi Arabia’s foray into international sports. “And in this case, especially after the events of 2018 and beyond, it shows that Saudi Arabia is once again welcome at the highest table in the United States. That quarantine period is now definitely over.”
For Saudi Arabia, the golf deal is more of a global news event than a national one.Wednesday’s cover Saudi Arabia’s top sports daily Aliyadiya was dominated by news of French footballer Karim Benzema’s move to Jeddah-based Al Ittihad, the latest prize money in the Saudi top league. Already attracted the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. The golf merger announcement didn’t appear on any page of the paper that day, only being briefly mentioned on Thursday’s page 11.
But Al-Rumayyan is on a one-man mission to use golf for the benefit of Saudi Arabia.he helped Established The Saudi Golf Federation and Saudi Golf Company were established in 2019 with the aim of popularizing the game in the country.
One of the uncertainties is Monaghan’s long-term role as chief executive.Tax records obtained by ProPublica show he was paid $14 million annual salary in 2021 For his role as PGA Tour Commissioner. He spent most of 2022 and early 2023 dodging LIV through insults and lawsuits.
The case has now been dismissed, saving Al Rumayyan and the Wealth Fund from depositions and discovery while saving money for the cash-strapped PGA Tour.
Was it a playfulness that could be forgiven now? Or could Al Rumayyan work behind the scenes to find a more aligned leader?
Mr. Monahan has told golf fans, sponsors and his own players to resist a reflexive collective flinch at the new arrangement, which many portray as a deal more about money than morality, saying that world golf is 10. I want you to think about what will happen in the years to come.
Perhaps it depends on what Al Rumayyan wants.
It could simply be tweaking pay, schedules and formats to lift a struggling traditional company, the way he has dealt with Newcastle. Or it may be overhauled. A possible comparison, without any connection to PIF, would be how international cricket introduced Twenty20 in a shorter, more vigorous and more expendable way to combat drugs and multi-day matches. , which is similar to what LIV tried to do.
For now, at the center of it all is the relationship between these two men, an incredibly wealthy patron from Saudi Arabia and a heritage-rich sports executive from Massachusetts.
“He and I sat in Venice for about two hours, trying to understand each other,” Al-Rumayyan said. “He talked about his aspirations and life. I did the same. My family was with me in Venice. That’s what really unites us in growing the game of golf.It’s the passion between the two of us that has cemented this kind of agreement.”
Spring in Venice has a way of evoking such enchantment.
A skeptic might point out that Venice is a chain of islands and it’s easy to get lost. The cynic may find it sinking.
Ahmed Al Omran contributed to the report.