WASHINGTON (AP)–Two leading figures for the PGA Tour have agreed to testify next week before a Senate panel reviewing the tour’s surprise agreement with the Saudi backers of LIV Golf.
The panel will have to wait to hear from LIV CEO Greg Norman and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Arabian national wealth fund behind the rival circuit.
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said Ron Price, the PGA Tour’s chief operating officer, and board member Jimmy Dunne have agreed to appear July 11.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chairs the panel, and ranking member Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said Norman and Al-Rumayyan cited scheduling conflicts as to why they would not be able to appear.
LIV Golf is playing outside London this week. Its next tournament is not until early August.
“We appreciate the PGA Tour working with us and look forward to a robust, thoughtful exchange with both Ron Price and Jimmy Dunne on July 11, focusing on the details and background of this deal and what it means for this cherished American institution,” Blumenthal and Johnson said in a joint statement.
They said they regret Al-Rumayyan and Norman’s schedules will keep them from the hearing because “they have valuable information to share about the operations of the Public Investment Fund, the future of LIV Golf, and Saudi Arabia’s plans to invest in golf and other sports.”
“Consistent with our subcommittee’s practice, we look forward to working with both witnesses to find a mutually agreeable date for them to appear in the very near future,” they said.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan stepped away with a “medical situation” on June 13 and turned over day-to-day operations to Price and Tyler Dennis, the president of the PGA Tour.
The New York Times said LIV instead offered Gary Davidson, who is acting chief operating officer of LIV. It cited a person familiar with LIV’s thinking as saying Davidson was more involved in the league’s day-to-day operations and the ramifications of the deal.
Norman was not involved in the seven weeks of negotiations that led to the framework agreement, in which the PIF, PGA Tour and European tour would pool commercial businesses and rights in a separate for-profit company.
Neither was Price. The only people involved in the deal were Al-Rumayyan, Monahan and PGA Tour board members Dunne and Ed Herlihy.
The title of the hearing is, “The PGA-LIV Deal: Implications for the Future of Golf and Saudi Arabia’s Influence in the United States.”
Blumenthal had said the panel wants to find out what went into the agreement.
“Americans deserve to know what the structure and governance of this new entity will be,” Blumenthal said last week in asking for the hearing. “Major actors in the deal are best positioned to provide this information, and they owe Congress–and the American people–answers in a public setting.”
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