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With LIV talks slowing, PGA Tour’s Dunne resigns


Jimmy Dunne, who last year helped negotiate the PGA Tour’s controversial framework agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, resigned from the tour’s policy board on Monday.

In Dunne’s resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, Dunne wrote that “no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with PIF” and that “my vote and my role is utterly superfluous” now that player directors outnumber independent directors on the policy board. Dunne’s resignation was effective immediately.

“It is crucial for the Board to avoid letting yesterday’s differences interfere with today’s decisions, especially when they influence future opportunities for the tour,” Dunne wrote. “Unifying professional golf is paramount to restoring fan interest and repairing wounds left from a fractured game. I have tried my best to move all minds in that direction.”

Along with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, Dunne and policy board chairman Ed Herlihy secretly negotiated the framework agreement with the PIF, which is financing the rival LIV Golf League. Monahan and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan announced the deal on June 6. Most PGA Tour players — including some player directors — were unaware of the deal until it was announced on TV.

The framework agreement expired Dec. 31, but the sides have continued to try to negotiate a deal. Monahan and player directors, including Tiger Woods, met with Al-Rumayyan in the Bahamas on March 18.

At the Masters in April, Woods said the meeting was productive.

“I don’t know if we’re closer, but certainly we’re headed in the right direction,” Woods said. “That was a very positive meeting, and I think both sides came away from the meeting feeling positive.”

The PGA Tour did strike a deal with Strategic Sports Group, a consortium of billionaire American sports team owners and others, to invest up to $3 billion into PGA Tour Enterprises, a new for-profit entity.

In a memo, obtained by ESPN Monday night, sent to Tour golfers, Monahan addressed the developments, saying “I’d like to thank Jimmy for his steadfast service to this organization since he joined the Board in January 2023, not to mention his countless contributions to the game of golf that span decades.”

Monahan, in the memo, also added “we continue to make meaningful progress behind the scenes in our negotiations toward a potential agreement with the PIF. Our goal remains to deliver the best possible outcome for the PGA Tour, our players, partners, tournaments and fans,” before concluding that “out of respect for the PGA Championship, we will not be making any additional public comments on this matter.”

Dunne, a Wall Street dealmaker, testified about the tour’s potential deal with the Saudis in front of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations on July 11. Monahan was taking a leave of absence for health reasons at the time of the hearing.

Dunne suggested in his resignation letter on Monday that he had been cut out of the negotiations with the Saudis. His resignation comes less than a week after PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy told reporters that certain people on the policy board were “uncomfortable” with him returning to the board.

McIlroy resigned from the policy board in November. Player director Webb Simpson was prepared to step down — if McIlroy replaced him to help get a deal done with the Saudis.

Along with Woods and Simpson, the player directors are Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott and Peter Malnati. Former tour member Joe Ogilvie is a board liaison.

On Thursday, the tour announced that former Valero Energy Corp. CEO Joseph W. Gorder had been elected to serve as the inaugural chairman of PGA Tour Enterprises’ board of directors and that McIlroy would be part of a transaction committee that would handle the tour’s negotiations with the PIF.

Gorder, now executive chairman of Valero Energy’s board, also will serve on the transaction committee, along with Fenway Sports Group founder and principal owner John W. Henry, Monahan, Scott, Woods, McIlroy and Ogilvie.

Dunne and Herlihy were left off the transaction committee.

“Players have lost trust in the board because of the backdoor deals and the governance,” one PGA Tour member, not authorized to formally speak on the situation, told ESPN on Monday. “The more players are getting involved, the more they realize things aren’t being run like they want — from the top down. The players have told the rest of the board they want to run it and don’t trust the board. When you lose faith in the head guy, none of the players are going to pay attention anymore.”

Dunne did not respond to ESPN’s request for comment.



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