During whatever passes for his quiet moments these days, Jay Monahan must yearn for the time when his news consumption was principally focused on the sports and business pages, those being the areas most consequential to his remit as commissioner of the PGA Tour. Nowadays, he must also turn to international affairs, one assumes with a knot in his gut at what might await.
This week, one dispatch was downright ulcerative.
A lawsuit accused the Tour’s soon-to-be partner, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, of taking part in a malicious campaign to punish a dissident defector whose children have been imprisoned for four years without due process. Allegations leveled in lawsuits are often hyperbolic, of course. Many colorful claims evaporate when oaths are administered or are dismissed with something approximating derision by a court, at least in the case of one chap who seems to think that both jurisprudence and the rules of golf are matters of personal interpretation.
On paper, Al-Rumayyan’s latest entanglement could be viewed as a squabble between stooges for a despotic government. His accuser is Dr Saad Aljabri, the former chief of Saudi intelligence. Aljabri claims that companies under Al-Rumayyan’s control have been used to apply pressure on his family, and it’s not the first time an asset in the PIF portfolio has been implicated in nefarious activity. A charter jet company seized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and transferred to Al-Rumayyan’s fund was later alleged to have been used in the murder of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi. There has been no suggestion that Al-Rumayyan was involved in that gruesome act, but there’s still reason for his business associates to be apprehensive.
Al-Rumayyan enjoys a reputation as a sophisticated, savvy dealmaker (his bankrolling of Greg Norman’s ego notwithstanding) but he’s like everyone else in Saudi Arabia’s state apparatus: a factotum for MBS. These are not people likely to demur if called upon to act on a matter close to the Crown Prince’s heart. There’s evidence of what MBS has been known to ask of loyalists — particularly those who have demonstrated proficiency with a bonesaw — so anyone who is in business with the Saudi fund can’t delay scanning the international news section until after they’re done with the funnies.
Whatever troublesome relationships the Tour has encountered in the past — say, a sponsoring bank that…