Mickelson's Major(s) Point-Missing
Latest missives from the fallen star display delusions of LIV Golf grandeur as signs point to continued divide between Saudi Arabia's upstart league and the golf establishment.
Months since learning the
framework agreement “events of June 6th agreement” only had three-or-so weeks of negotiation remaining, there are signs of an impending deal collapse and pro golf division for years to come.
One of the two key protagonists in the weird June 6th rollout teed it up in the recent Alfred Dunhill Links. He was the guest of tournament chairman Johan Rupert who nobly is trying to bring all parties onto the same page and to get the endless money talk out of the news. But just days after “His Excellency” Yasir Al-Rumayyan presumably made a final pitch to key Official World Golf Ranking power players over rounds at Carnoustie and the Old Course, LIV Golf was denied the legitimizing points. But at least H.E. received encouragement via the disapproval letter from OWGR President And Old Course Hotel GM Peter Dawson, whose bizarro message was for LIV to keep being you. Blast that music, wear those shorts no matter how unflattering, peddle Torque merch and grow that game! However, we don’t give GTG points here at the OWGR.
The other figurehead in the June 6th announcement
who also did not want to be deposed and therefore agreed to a rushed deal who wanted to bring game-growing harmony and keep his free jet rides to every elite hideaway imaginable, has disappeared again. But we do know PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan will be turning up at next month’s Dealbook summit, his name screaming “outlier” at a conference including chats with the world’s richest man, the Vice President, the recently ousted Speaker of the House, and multiple respected CEO’s who will all be of more interest to the audience.
It seems Monahan has been busy pouring over seven bids received for a stake in the PGA Tour’s hastily-created for-profit entity. (Don’t feel left out if you did not receive the RFP, neither did I or, it sounds like, the Al Rumayyan’s PIF.) If you believe the spin from a recent story in Bloomberg these are “unsolicited” bids Monahan and friends will be busy reading this week.
We learned more details Friday from Endeavor CEO Ari Emmanuel that suggest an open bidding process. He said that an “investment opportunity” sounding eerily similar to the one the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund agreed to in June, is now of interest to the private equity world. Seven bidders, to be exact.
The unsolicited bids are flying!
“It’s one of the great sports, I love it,” the longtime Riviera member said before confirming his company “put in our bid” a week ago with plans of invoking the Endeavor “flywheel” to make the Tour product sing.
(B-speak translation: flywheel is the new cross-platform synergy.)
Pressed on whether the Endeavor bid encompassed the same for-profit PGA Tour entity that the PIF planned to invest in to make those pesky lawsuits go away, Emmanuel played coy regarding His Excellency’s options. The longtime superagent, powerbroker and shrewd businessman confirmed the seven bidders “can’t buy the majority” of the Tour holdings.
We also know Tiger Woods has been involved in the deal. Ryder Cup Captain Zach Johnson said he has “a lot on his plate” and was sitting out text chains and lineup discussions during the event in Rome. No one assumed Johnson was linking Tiger busy schedule with 2024’s game show golf league rollout.
Tiger almost assuredly an equity stake of whatever it is the PGA Tour is selling, as evidenced by his unprecedented Policy Board appointment. Tiger does not work for free. So he’s likely been a huge part of schmoozing money types in hopes of helping the PGA Tour tell His Excellency to go away.
Specifics on what the Tour is selling and who is buying should be revealed soon. We also know from Bloomberg that the deadline to work something out with Saudi Arabia appears in jeopardy. No! You think?
In any scenario, LIV’s players will remain diminished assets on the outside looking in following the ranking points disapproval. Their access to major championships will be relegated to current exemptions, entering open qualifying (the horror!), or the unlikely possibility that the impregnable quadrilateral will offer spots to leading LIV players.
All of the negative signs seemed like news to Phil Mickelson. Or maybe the six-time major winner was just extra bored passing the time in his Jeddah hotel when he should have been out paragliding on the Red Sea or helping the Crown Prince learn the Pelz system for 100 yard wedge shots. And instead of dreaming about shotmaking his way around Royal Greens to season-ending glory, Mickelson took to Twitter/X on a day when the old Phil would have been devoted to Week Six NFL research. But remember, he’s taking the year off from football betting as part of his addiction recovery process. Next year, we’ll see.
In a Twitter response to fellow former Masters champion Trevor Immelman, Mickelson alleged that the men’s majors were “protecting themselves” by denying LIV players points. He said the majors never intended to give points and believes the Lords of Augusta, Liberty Corner, St Andrews and Frisco are conducting the PGA Tour’s bidding because “the PGA Tour tv contract is based on owgr criteria for them to get all their money.”
(The majors have separate deals with networks and do not benefit from the PGA Tour’s arrangement with CBS, NBC and/or ESPN+.)
Mickelson said the Tour “would lose leverage in negotiations if LIV got points” even though the Ponte Vedra-based organization is wrapping up year two of a nine-year television deal and not believed to be in any media negotiations.
Go on, Phil:
4) last but not least, Tour has BORROWED against the tv deal! If they don't hit their bench marks and don't get all their tv money (from CBS:) they will have an immediate capital call. Don't believe me? Ask Sean McManus
There is a ring of truth to those claims and it’s certainly an issue for all involved if PGA Tour events are too heavily weighted given the media deal claims of Mickelson. However, it was known for years that the Tour lobbied hard for a new OWGR system, believing a majority of the best golfers played on the U.S.-based Tour and were not getting enough points. All entities who have hinted at an OWGR minimum in the current TV deal have said it was a last minute addition to the Tour’s contract and came after the revised ranking process was designed (but not yet implemented).
Mickelson also accused the Masters, PGA Championship, U.S. Open and The Open of colluding to protect their events (even though they’d love nothing more than for all of this to go away):