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PGA loyalists, not LIV jumpers, to get equity in new firm: report

Hideki Matsuyama of Japan hits a tee shot on the fifth hole during the final round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Workday at Muirfield Village Golf Club in this file photo.

Golfers who stayed loyal to the US PGA Tour, but not those who jumped to LIV Golf, will receive equity shares in a new for-profit entity, ESPN reported on Friday.

Jimmy Dunne, a member of the PGA Tour policy board who helped broker the shocking deal between his group and the Saudi backers of LIV Golf, told ESPN that would be a way to reward players who stayed loyal to the PGA.

Dunne, an investment banker and president of Seminole Golf Club in Florida, said PGA Tour members will get equity under a yet-to-be-determined formula in the new company formed by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Public Investment Fund.

“The new (company) would grow, and the (current PGA) players would get a piece of equity that would enhance and increase in value as time went on,” Dunne told ESPN.

“There would have to be some kind of formulaic decision on how to do that. It would be a process to determine what would be a fair mechanism that would be really beneficial to our players.”

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Spain’s Jon Rahm and Americans Patrick Cantlay and Cameron Young were reportedly among those who turned down guaranteed deals of up to $100 million from LIV.

Rory McIlroy said he never received an offer from LIV but other reports had him and Tiger Woods among those who could have reaped riches by joining LIV.

Dunne, a member of Masters host Augusta National Golf Club, will serve on the board of the new firm.

The plan would allow for the reward promised to loyalists earlier this week by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, criticized as a hypocrite for having made a deal with the PIF after more than a year of criticizing the Saudis in a bid to prevent top stars from leaving the PGA.

Players who left for rich deals with LIV would not be eligible for any equity stake, but have already reaped the benefit of huge money deals with the upstart series.

Dunne also said a committee that includes current PGA Tour players would decide on any potential punishments for players who left for LIV but would want to return to the PGA Tour.

“I think we would form a panel, including tour players, that would evaluate what the terms would be,” Dunne said.

“Remember, they’re coming back to compete on the tour, so they have to be confident that they would be good enough to continue to play, and they have to be willing to incur the penalty for having gone.”

Punishments for players would likely be considered on a case-by-case basis for those who departed but seek a return, ESPN said citing unnamed sources, with the 11 players who sued the PGA Tour in US federal court and those who recruited talent to LIV likely to get hit harder than others.

“Players on the LIV that wanted to reinstate into the PGA Tour would go through a process (and) suspension,” Dunne told ESPN. “Whatever the penalty was, they would have to decide whether they wanted to do that or not and then they could play.”

Dunne said he and Monahan would have oversight of LIV after the ongoing campaign, which is set to end in November.

Monahan has said the PGA will look into a team format for events but that will not necessarily use the same format as LIV, or even that brand name.

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