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Saturday, June 22, 2024

The Open Becomes Golf’s First Major to Entertain Saudi Investment

  • The head of LIV Golf met with the CEO of the R&A on Sunday at the Open Championship.
  • No other organizing body of a major championship has held official talks with the Saudis.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

LIV Golf has received its first breakthrough with organizers of one of men’s golf’s four major championships.

Late Monday, it was confirmed that Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan met with R&A CEO Martin Slumbers on Sunday during the Open Championship’s final round at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England, as American Brian Harman claimed victory by six strokes.

According to The Telegraph, the meeting was “more symbolic than substantive.” Also at the meeting was Amanda Staveley — a key PIF associate and minority owner of Newcastle United who helped facilitate Al-Rumayyan’s discussions with the PGA Tour.

Ahead of the Open, Slumbers wouldn’t rule out taking money from the Saudis and acknowledged the R&A’s struggle to keep up with rising prize funds in pro golf. The Open’s $16.5 million purse was the smallest of golf’s four majors — and less than every purse on the LIV circuit and the PGA Tour’s elevated events.

Under its framework agreement with the PGA Tour, the PIF could become a premier corporate sponsor, providing more than $1 billion in cash. A similar arrangement with the Open could potentially be on the horizon.

Tipping Point?

At the U.S. Open, USGA CEO Mike Whan wouldn’t rule out accepting Saudi funding but downplayed its likelihood. 

Interest in Saudi funding also wasn’t a topic for the PGA of America or Augusta National at the PGA Championship or Masters — which both took place before the PGA Tour’s bombshell agreement was announced.

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