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The PGA Tour has vetoed a title sponsorship replacement for the Bryon Nelson Championship due to its links with Saudi Arabia.
As reported by Golfweek, AT&T, the long-term title sponsors of the Texas tournament, have pulled out of a deal that was expected to run through until 2024.
The event that took place the week before the PGA Championship has been on the hunt for a new sponsor after learning of the American telecoms company’s plans to withdraw.
And the PGA Tour were seemingly close to agreeing a deal with Raytheon Technologies – the aerospace and defence giant – to take over as title sponsor of the Dallas event.
But it is claimed the PGA Tour’s commissioner Jay Monahan pulled the plug on the deal after it emerged Raytheon had sold missiles to Saudi Arabia.
In August, the US State Department reportedly approved the sale of weapons to the Saudis in a deal totalling more than $3bn.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has financed the rival LIV Golf tour to the tune of up to $2billion and it appears Monahan has stepped in because of Raytheon’s involvement with the Gulf state.
An anonymous tournament official told Golfweek: “The optics were not good. I give Jay credit for stepping in and making the right call.”
AT&T, meanwhile, have not ended their long association with the PGA Tour, despite asking out of their involvement in the Bryson Nelson following a nine-year title sponsorship.
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am could well become a designated event in the restructured 2023-2024 PGA Tour schedule, which would increase prize money to $20m, with AT&T contributing significantly towards the mammoth purse.
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