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PGA Tour board member quits over ‘serious concerns’ with Saudi deal

CARMEL, IN - SEPTEMBER 11: A course scenic view of the 16th hole during the final round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick Golf Club on September 11, 2016 in Carmel, Indiana. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

NEW YORK (CNN) — Former AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has resigned from his post on the influential policy board of the PGA Tour in protest of the proposed merger with Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

Stephenson’s resignation, first reported by the Washington Post on Sunday evening, was confirmed by the PGA Tour early Monday.

In his resignation letter, Stephenson wrote that he had “serious concerns” with the PGA Tour’s deal with LIV Golf, saying it “is not one that I can objectively evaluate or in good conscience support, particularly in light of the US intelligence report concerning Jamal Khashoggi in 2018,” a source familiar with the letter confirmed to CNN.

A 2021 US intelligence report said Washington Post journalist Khashoggi, a US citizen and critic of the Saudi regime, was murdered at the direction of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Stephenson’s letter also objected that the deal with LIV Golf, negotiated in secret by PGA Tour executives, “came to fruition without board oversight.”

The PGA Tour policy board acts as a governing board for the golf association. It includes five golfers, including Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay — plus five non-paid independent directors and a nonvoting representative from the PGA of America. McIlroy has also been vocal in his opposition to the LIV merger.