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The sport-altering announcement about the PGA Tour – LIV Golf merger is less than a week old, and while there are plenty of questions surrounding the situation, facts about how the merger came to be are starting to be revealed.
Other than the simple question of why, who was involved, and when did negotiations start are two questions weighing on the golf world’s mind. We know the answers to those two questions, at least partially.
To start from the beginning we have to go to November 2022 when the PGA Tour announced that Jimmy Dunne, Vice Chairman and Senior Managing Principal of investment bank Piper Sandler, would soon be joining the Tour’s policy board.
Dunne is consistently and accurately described as a ‘deal maker,’ and it turns out that’s exactly what he was brought in to do with the Tour.
Interestingly enough, he doesn’t come across as the most formal businessman based on how he reportedly started talks with the Saudis and LIV Golf.
According to the New York Times, Dunne decided to reach out to Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), via a very casual WhatsApp message.
Dunne’s first message was sent on April 18, exactly 49 days before the announcement of the merger broke the sports world on June 6.
“He did on April 18, when a WhatsApp message flashed on al-Rumayyan’s phone,” the Times wrote. “The tone toward one of the world’s most influential financiers, a figure often addressed as “Your Excellency” and close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was strikingly casual.
“Yasir,” Dunne began as he introduced himself and asked to arrange a call and, “hopefully,” a visit. He signed the message with equal informality: “Jimmy.”
The Informality Of The PGA Tour – LIV Golf Merger Is Quite Something
According to the report, the two men struck an actual conversation within a few hours of the initial WhatsApp message and struck a common point when both never insisted on a nondisclosure agreement.
It’s incredible to think that the most impactful moment in the history of professional golf began with an informal message on WhatsApp.
While incredible, it also adds to the fishiness that is clouding whatever the future may be. While Dunne, al-Rumayyan, and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan are three of the most influential people in golf, you can’t help but wonder if this entire announcement of a merger is all too informal.
Details, and the future of professional golf, are quite literally a guessing game up to this point. Saudi’s investment fund valued at $700 billion will help find answers, but what those answers may be, nobody knows.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris