Fenway Sports Group Chairman Tom Werner on Monday acknowledged that the company has held talks with the PGA Tour as the golf organization’s framework agreement with Saudi-backed LIV Golf faces new doubts.
“We confirm that we’ve had conversations,” Werner told CNBC’s Scott Wapner during “Halftime Report.” He declined to comment further.
Werner, who spoke alongside PGA Tour star Rory McIlroy, said that the players “will decide the direction the tour goes.”
There’s growing speculation that Fenway, which owns the MLB’s Boston Red Sox and soccer team Liverpool FC, could come through with an offer that could top the Saudis’ bid. The PGA Tour-LIV Golf combination was never finalized beyond a framework agreement. Veteran golf journalist Alan Shipnuck last week posted on X that Fenway Sports Group has put in a “monster bid to usurp the PIF.”
Monday’s interview with Werner and McIlroy came days after a Endeavour Group Holdings executive said the PGA Tour turned down a strategic partnership with the company, which owns a majority stake in WWE and UFC parent TKO.
The PGA Tour-LIV deal was announced in June. It was a surprising development that came after months of bitter legal feuding and lobbying. The agreement triggered its own share of anger and criticism, triggering Senate hearings to investigate the deal. Critics claimed that the deal was a means for Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund to gain influence in the U.S. through sports investments. Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman controls the PIF.
McIlroy had been outspoken in his disdain for LIV Golf, saying in July that if LIV Golf was “the last place to play golf on earth, I would retire.”
Speculation mounted that Mcllory’s efforts to launch the PGA Tour-blessed TGL golf league with Tiger Woods was a response to LIV Golf’s encroachment on the sport. LIV lured PGA Tour players, like Phil Mickelson, to with deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Last month, Disney’s ESPN snagged the broadcast rights for TGL. Fenway backs McIlroy’s TGL team, Boston Common.
McIlroy sounded a friendlier note Monday, when asked about the potential for a renewed rivalry between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.
“I feel like we’ve got a fractured competitive landscape right now,” McIlroy told CNBC. “But hopefully when this is all said and done, I sincerely hope the PIF are involved and we can bring the game of golf back together.”