Billy Horschel, in comments following the controversial deal between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, says he has a “minority” opinion on how Tour players should be made aware of transactions.
Tour officials, he told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis on Monday ahead of this week’s Open Championship, do not always have to be transparent.
“I’m in the minority probably on this — I don’t think they always have to be transparent with us because I just don’t see the benefit always of being transparent, telling us everything,” Horschel told Lewis. “Do they come to us and discuss a sponsor of a PGA Tour event that they’re trying to get; if everyone’s happy with that sponsor; is the agreement that they made with that sponsor, is everyone happy with? We’re not business people. We don’t have the knowledge, we don’t have the experience in that world to make those decisions.
“But I think we do have a member-input organization and I do think there needs to be some transparency. I’ve tried to, early in my career, say there were certain things that the PGA Tour could be more transparent with, to give the guys a better understanding of how the business is run on the PGA Tour.”
Horschel’s comments come after the Tour, the DP World Tour and the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund agreed to a deal that would create a new, for-profit enterprise and end pending litigation among the sides. In the weeks since the announcement in early June between the tours and the fund that backs year-old LIV Golf, though, players have said they have received little insight into the deal’s details, with the subject likely to arise again at Royal Liverpool.
In his interview with Lewis on Monday, Horschel said the Tour isn’t necessarily run by its members — rather, they give input.
“I’ve been out here for 15 years now, and I think I quickly understood that even though it’s a member-run organization, it truly wasn’t a member-run organization,” said Horschel, a seven-time PGA Tour winner who’s been outspoken on LIV in the past. “It’s more a member-input organization, in my opinion. When you have a company like this, the PGA Tour, that’s a billion-dollar-worth business on a yearly basis, it’s tough to get 200 players, 200-plus players who are members, to agree on the direction of the PGA Tour.
“That’s why we put [commissioner] Jay Monahan and the executives in the position they are.”
Horschel’s comments came less than a week after Ron Price, the Tour’s chief operating officer, and Jimmy Dunne, an independent director on the Tour’s policy board, were questioned about the Saudi deal at a Senate subcommittee hearing. There, GOLF’s Alan Bastable reported, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) at one point asked Price how many players were notified of the potential Tour-PIF agreement before it was announced to the public on June 6.
“I don’t believe any players were notified,” Price said.
“None?” Blumenthal said.
“Not a single player was notified?” Blumenthal continued. “You’re a membership organization, your members are the players, you don’t exist without the players, but you didn’t tell a single one of them about the negotiations, let alone what the result would be, before you announced it publicly?”
“It was the settlement of litigation, which was binding,” Price said. “And then we told the players that we’d go through a process of making them fully involved with anything we do relative to the definitive agreement, which we’re in the process of doing.”
“They keep saying it’s a player-run organization, and we don’t really have the information that we need,” Scheffler said. “I watched part of [the hearing] yesterday and didn’t learn anything. So I really don’t know what to say.”
Should players, Scheffler was asked, have been involved in helping to shape the Tour-Saudi deal?
“Should I have been?” Scheffler said. “Probably not. But I’m sure that a few of our players members should probably have been involved.”
Notably, the agreement was reportedly negotiated by just four people — Monahan, policy board members Ed Hirlihy and Jimmy Dunne, and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the PIF governor. Monahan recently returned to his post after taking a leave in mid-June to treat an undisclosed illness, but in the weeks before, Xander Schauffele said last Wednesday, the commissioner should have been more communicative.
“If you want to call it one of the rockier times on Tour, the guy was supposed to be there for us, wasn’t,” Schauffele said. “Obviously he had some health issues. I’m glad that he said he’s feeling much better. But yeah, I’d say he has a lot of tough questions to answer in his return, and yeah, I don’t trust people easily. He had my trust, and he has a lot less of it now. So I don’t stand alone when I say that.
“Yeah, he’ll just have to answer our questions when he comes back.”