Over the past week in golf, we’ve had stories of a failed coup, back alley dealings with private equity firms, an all-consuming power broker, an uncomfortable media appearance, and merger negotiations on par with anything that happened between Waystar Royco and GoJo. All that’s left for HBO to do is see if Jesse Armstrong wants to sift through a different industry’s baggage.
At the head of the buffoonery is Patrick Cantlay — unless you believe what Jordan Speith has to say — because, apparently, the former has tried to hijack the negotiations, and is failing at a rate that would send Kendall Roy on a three-month bender. Cantlay is in the position to be so influential because the six players on the PGA Tour’s policy board have the final say on a deal agreed with the Saudi Public Investment Fund or any other investors. (Tiger Woods and Speith are on the board, and might be part of the cabal, too, but Speith refutes all of this.)
Cantlay was reportedly courting private equity firms to help gain leverage in the negotiations, the Saudis caught wind because of course they did, and decided to lure a few more bargaining chips to their side. Thus the Jon Rahm signing for half a billion, with rumors of Tony Finau and others in talks.
Golf fans’ last notable run-in with Cantlay was at the Ryder Cup this year when he started a bunch of drama over hats and allegedly money. Lest we forget, it’s what led to Rory McIlroy trying to fight Cantlay’s caddie in the parking lot in the most harmless way possible.
It’s also what prompted this fantastic headline by the Mirror: “Ryder Cup villain ‘calling the shots’ in PGA Tour after Rory McIlroy resignation”. McIlroy’s resignation from the aforementioned board also had something to do with Cantlay as the two admittedly don’t see eye to eye.
One of the hangups in the talks is the pool of money set aside for PGA Tour golfers who had offers from LIV but remained loyal. That number has been in the range of $1 billion, but seeing as Rahm just netted half of that, who knows what it is now, or how many guys are willing to remain loyal and be left out in the cold wilderness of immense wealth.
It’s obviously beyond frustrating/hysterical to watch players try to cobble together last-ditch efforts to retain as much control of the sport as possible while simultaneously bitching about how to split up the cash at the end of the blood-soaked rainbow. If Succession taught us anything it’s that the richest person in the room usually wins.
The PIF prevailed when Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour caved, if not at the moment when Phil Mickelson decided he needed a more lucrative revenue stream to fuel his gambling addiction. While I’m sure Western golf fans want the PGA Tour to be out front as much as possible, and never talk about the “scary motherf*ckers” funding the sport, that’s not what the Saudis paid for.
And after Cantlay’s apparent failed hail mary, the PIF is done being reasonable. With a December 31 deadline looming, we’ll see if the deal gets done in the season finale, or if Monahan, on his private jet to meet with LIV chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan, keels over mid-flight.
Cue the theme music.