Tiger Woods joining the PGA Tour Policy Board as a Player Director is the best thing that could have happened in the ongoing battle/not battle between the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund ( PIF) headed by Yasir Al-Rumayyan. There are both monetary and diplomatic reasons why having Woods enter the picture changes things.
With all the moaning and complaining about the PIF, no one bothered to mention that Al-Rumayyan, in addition to being chairman of PIF, is also chairman of Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of Saudi Arabia, which is the largest oil producer in the world.
Aramco, is an abbreviation for Arabian American Oil Company, a partnership that started in 1933 between the country of Saudi Arabia and Standard Oil of California. The history since then is tangled up in a variety of U.S. oil companies, which is one reason the U.S. tries to maintain a decent diplomatic relationship with Saudi Arabia. Really there are more convolutions to it than a world-class origami expert could sort out.
In other words, Al-Rumayyan is kind of a big deal, not just in Saudi Arabia, but around the world in business.
PIF was created in 1971 when King Faisal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud decided to fund projects that had importance to the country’s economy and well-being. Even though PIF is a small part of the overall Saudi wealth, it is a significant shareholder in many U.S. companies such as Live Nation, Boeing, Facebook (now Meta), Citigroup, Uber, Disney, and Bank of America.
The PGA Tour deals in millions. PIF and Aramco deal in billions.
PIF also has stakes in EA Sports (Tiger Woods PGA Tour), Take-Two Interactive (NBA2K), Activision (Call of Duty and others), and Japanese manufacturer Nintendo.
The reasons we know this is that all investors have to disclose stock holdings of 5 percent or more of a company trading on the U.S. stock exchanges to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. PIF owns 5 percent or more of some of those companies.
PIF is also involved in many public works programs in Saudi Arabia, from desalinization projects to resorts.
How big is Aramco? According to Fortune magazine, Aramco is the second biggest company in the world in terms of revenue, closing in fast on Walmart, which recently had an annual revenue of $622.02 billion. This is one reason PIF and LIV have more or less a bottomless pit of money to draw from and why the PGA Tour can’t outspend them. The PGA Tour deals in millions. PIF and Aramco deal in billions.
But the PGA Tour has weight in other ways. In prestige, in tournaments, in personalities. And in golf, the biggest name the sport has had in the last third of a century is Tiger Woods.
It’s often said that Woods doesn’t drive the needle, he is the needle when it comes to fan and sponsor interest. So having Woods, who is also kind of a big deal, across the negotiating table from someone who has the clout of the chairman of Aramco, that’s a better match-up than without him.
Imagine how it might work. If Woods doesn’t like a deal, if he doesn’t like part of a deal, if he doesn’t like a part of a sentence, you can bet it’s going to be reworked until he does. He doesn’t even have to use the “I” word because he’s now speaking for between 200, 300, 400 professional golfers on multiple tours.
The “I” now becomes “WE,” as in “WE” don’t like that, or “WE” were thinking more along these lines. And everybody knows that when Woods steps up, he’s not a slacker.
The best part about having Woods in the room is that while he might be happy to have more money, he doesn’t absolutely need more money. He doesn’t need Aramco money to live a good and full life. He can play the tough guy because he’s the only one in the room who doesn’t need anything from anybody that he can’t get on his own. And he got all that from being a part of the PGA Tour and by his own work ethic.
He’s not about to let anybody damage that. He’s the only one in the room who can get up and say, that’s not how we see it and walk out. Nobody else can do that. If you’re the PGA Tour, that’s the guy you want on your side.