Jimmy Dunne, co-architect of PGA Tour Framework Agreement with Saudis, resigns from PGA Tour board
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Jimmy Dunne, co-architect of PGA Tour Framework Agreement with Saudis, resigns from PGA Tour board

A photo of Jimmy Dunne

Jimmy Dunne, one of a few PGA Tour representatives instrumental in negotiating the secret Framework Agreement made with the Saudi Public Investment Fund in 2023, has resigned his seat on the PGA Tour Policy Board.

Dunne announced the decision in a letter to his fellow directors dated May 13, 2024, sharing that the difficult decision was made after coming to the conclusion that he was "superfluous" to the ongoing conversations with Yasir Al-Rumayyan about a potential deal to somehow reunite men's professional golf.

In his letter, Dunne wrote in part, "As directed by Commissioner Monahan, I engaged LIV's majority owner, the Public Investment Fund, to see if we could end the lawsuits and reunify the game. Importantly, we were able to come to an agreement in which the lawsuits were dismissed with prejudice and a path was created for the Tour to remain in control of professional golf. Since there was no exclusivity clause, the players had a full range of options to seek outside investors. That results in a multi-billion-dollar commitment from the Strategic Sports Group. I believe that history will look favorably on this outcome and the very real opportunities now afforded the Tour.

"As you are aware, I have not been asked to take part in negotiations with the PIF since June 2023. During my testimony at the Senate hearing, I said it was my intention to cast my vote alongside the Player Directors if a final agreement was reached with PIF. Since the players now outnumber the Independent Directors on the Board, and no meaningful progress has been made towards a transaction with the PIF, I feel like my vote and my role is utterly superfluous.

"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. 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."

It is thought that the Player Directors, particularly Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth and Tiger Woods, have taken control of the situation in the last six months and have exerted influence to slow down a potential final deal with the Saudis. Spieth openly questioned if the Saudi transaction is needed now that the PGA Tour has brought on the Strategic Sports Group, demonstrating it can court private capital. Woods is also thought to be against a deal with the Saudis for several reasons, including disdain for Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf. Cantlay, the subject of the most rumor-mongering, is thought to be against any deal as well.

Rory McIlroy has been assigned to a subcommittee which will engage in neogitations directly on behalf of the Policy Board, joining Tiger Woods as a player at the bargaining table. However, McIlroy was denied a return slot on the Policy Board.

What Dunne's resignation means is unclear, though Dunne's comments do fly in the face of words from commissioner Jay Monahan, who suggested last week at the Wells Fargo Championship that significant progress has been made in negotiations with the Saudis. Dunne is right, though. He has been out of the process for nearly a year, no doubt partly a function of the mistrust sewn by crafting the initial Framework Agreement in secret and as a relatively new board member. With no need for his support to get a potential deal over the finish line -- or to stop the players from shredding any potential deal -- Dunne has been rendered largely meaningless if he's not being engaged by the board.

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Ryan Ballengee

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