Al-Rumayyan, however, was. But his appearance on Capitol Hill was never considered probable. One of Saudi Arabia’s most influential figures, he rarely gives interviews outside of tightly controlled settings, and lawyers representing him and the Saudi government waged an aggressive fight to keep him from being deposed in golf-related litigation in the United States. (The litigation was dropped as a part of the tentative deal — one of the few binding components of the framework agreement — and al-Rumayyan never gave sworn testimony.)
The wealth fund declined to comment on Friday. The tour, in a statement, said it was “cooperating with the subcommittee’s requests for information and having productive conversations with them about who will represent the PGA Tour on July 11th.”
It added, “We look forward to answering their questions about the framework agreement that keeps the PGA Tour as the leader of professional golf’s future and benefits our players, our fans and our sport.”
The wealth fund and the tour are deploying armies of lobbyists, lawyers and political fixers to try to smooth the deal’s path. Before going on leave to recuperate from a “medical situation” that the tour has declined to describe, Monahan wrote to lawmakers to defend the agreement. He also complained that Congress had not given the tour enough support to withstand a Saudi “attempt to take over the game of golf in the United States,” as he put it.
“We were largely left on our own to fend off the attacks, ostensibly due to the United States’ complex geopolitical alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Monahan wrote.
It is not clear whether the Senate panel will escalate its efforts to secure testimony from Norman, or any of the other witnesses they requested, especially before the July 11 hearing. Most lawmakers are away from Washington for the Senate’s Independence Day break, and few are expected to return to Capitol Hill until the week of the hearing.
The hearing’s current timing, though, could be fortuitous for golf leaders. Public attention will turn the following week to the British Open, which will be played at Royal Liverpool. Cameron Smith, who joined LIV not long after his victory last July on the Old Course at St. Andrews, will try to defend his title at golf’s last major tournament of the year.
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