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Taylor, Hughes welcome new PGA Tour deal

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Mackenzie Hughes hadn’t been on Wednesday morning’s conference call when PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced the deal with Strategic Sports Group (SSG) since he was on West Coast time and the call was on East Coast time. But he already knew the basics of the arrangement that will create a new company, PGA Tour Enterprises, with a $1.5 billion investment from SSG.

And as far as he was concerned, it was all positive.

“It feels good when someone is investing billions of dollars in your company,” said Hughes over the phone as he headed towards Pebble Beach Golf Links to practice ahead of this week’s tournament. “They obviously see some value in what we have.”

Hughes sits on the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council (PAC) and was getting updates on progress of the negotiations over the past few months. As he saw it, the announcement was a well-needed win for the PGA Tour.

After watching Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton and others bolt for LIV in recent weeks, seeing sponsors leave the PGA Tour and feeling the dissent among the ranks of the tour on a variety of matters, he and many on the PGA Tour welcomed Wednesday’s news.

Nick Taylor was on the same wavelength as he prepared for this week’s event, one that he won four years ago.

“I think this is a big positive going forward,” he stated. “I think people are tired of the emphasis being on the money but this is a good step for the tour and the players.”

Taylor was named to the PAC earlier this week and, as with Hughes, was on a call Tuesday evening when the group was briefed on what had been achieved. There weren’t a lot of deep details, he said, but the big picture was well received.

For the players, the biggest positive is that most will become stakeholders in the new for-profit company. Monahan said that close to 200 will get some form of equity which will be based on amount of time on the tour and achievements.

“I don’t think we, as players, really know what the equity means just yet or how it will be handed out at this point,” Taylor stated. “It might be that it stops some players from moving over to LIV. The folks from SSG kept telling us that this is unprecedented.”

Hughes agreed, saying the equity was the eye-opener for him.

“I’m not sure we know a lot of the details around the equity at this point,” he said. “It’s pretty interesting and I’m sure that we’ll get those in the next few days and weeks.”

SSG is a consortium of groups and individuals that own sports teams in the NHL, NBA and MLB. It’s headed by Fenway Sports Group which has the Boston Red Sox, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Liverpool Football Club in its portfolio. The group has posted an initial deposit of $1.5 billion and has the opportunity to add that much again.

With this deal solidified, the attention turns to the negotiations with the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, backers of LIV Golf. In announcing today’s deal, the PGA Tour said the talks with the PIF were continuing with the goal of an investment in PGA Tour Enterprises.

“I’m not sure what the next steps are,” Hughes said. “But things are better today than they were yesterday.”