Billionaire involved in PGA Tour/PIF deal makes Rory McIlroy claim: “He said no”

A report has shone a light on how Fenway Sports Group decided to invest in the PGA Tour where Rory McIlroy is one of their biggest stars.Rory McIlroy reportedly pushed back on the idea PGA Tour players felt like they owned the circuit in a private meeting with Liverpool owner John Henry, according to a report. Henry, who owns the Premier League football club and the Boston Red Sox through Fenway Sports Group, decided to invest in professional in late 2023. He has since led Strategic Sports Group’s $1.5bn investment into PGA Tour Enterprises, the for-profit entity that was created in response to the rival LIV Golf League. That investment came months after it was announced the PGA Tour was to strike a commercial agreement with LIV’s financiers, the PIF of Saudi Arabia. More than a year later, there is no sign of an agreement being reached, despite claims from both sides that productive talks are being held. The Boston Globe has recently shone a light on how, where, when and why Henry decided to get involved in the sport of golf. And how leading PGA Tour players were convinced to pick SSG as their preferred partner. According to the report, Henry watched PGA Tour officials being grilled before US lawmakers and was perplexed about the lack of American investment. He wound up being the first to volunteer after a conversation with Mark Attanasio, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. “First, we did a Zoom with the independent board members of the PGA Tour,” he told The Globe.  “And they got excited about the potential of an American group stepping forward to help.”They wanted to unify golf. And we thought, if we came in with a deal, we could help.”Henry said that the verdict was unanimous for investment as it was a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity. But last September, SSG realised other groups had began talking to the Tour about making their own investments. Amid the ‘bidding war’, Henry met McIlroy at Fenway Park as part the launch of the Northern Irishman’s TGL side. TGL is a indoor golf league he owns with Tiger Woods and TMRW Sports Group. “When Henry gave McIlroy, a Boston Common Golf player, a tour of Fenway Park, he asked him if he felt like he owned the Tour.”He said no,” Henry said.”That night, FSG hosted a spirited party at Fenway’s 521 Overlook function space, the event full of FSG, PGA Tour, media, and other golf-adjacent executives.And he wanted to earn their trust. On 9 December, the Tour announced their preferred investment partner in SSG. The report also states how Henry has flown to Saudi Arabia to meet in person with PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan.He refused to go into detail about their discussions, citing ongoing discussions. But he did say: “The players have the desire, the Public Investment Fund has the desire, same with the Tour in general — I don’t think there’s anyone in golf that doesn’t want to see [unification to] happen.”

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