Tuesday 6 June 2023

PGA Tour Agrees To Merger With Saudi-Backed LIV Golf

 The PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf have signed an agreement to merge into an as-of-now unnamed company, squashing more than a year of lawsuits and attempts by both organizations to court the world’s most esteemed golfers.

The deal combines the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, along with DP World Tour, into one for-profit company, CNBC reported. Specifics of the merger have yet to be disclosed, but the deal will end all pending litigation between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. 

“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” said PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. “This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA TOUR’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV – including the team golf concept – to create an organization that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners and fans.”

The PGA Tour’s decades of dominance were challenged in June 2021 after retired golfer Greg Norman, with funding from the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), hosted LIV’s first tournament. The PGA tour initially dismissed LIV out of hand, not allowing any golfer who participated in LIV to continue in the PGA tour. 

LIV slowly began picking off some of the biggest stars in golf to join their league. The PIF gave CEO Greg Norman a reserve of $2 billion that proved to be enough to pick off stars like Phil Mickelson ($200 million), Dustin Johnson ($100 million), and Bryson DeChambeau ($100 million) without having to win or even qualify for a single tournament, leaving even more money on the table.

The PGA Tour suspended 17 golfers from the tour for participating in LIV Golf, kicking off a year of lawsuits between the two golf juggernauts. Eleven pro-golfers sued the PGA for allegedly stifling competition in a monopolistic manner. However, all 11 plaintiffs left the lawsuit by May of this year after LIV got involved as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, souring the public image of the golfer’s stated principled stand against the PGA. 


The PGA filed a countersuit in September, alleging that LIV golf and, importantly, the PIF had unlawfully aided the 17 golfers in violating their contracts with the PGA by offering them separate contracts to play for LIV. The implication of the PIF is an international debacle, as stars such as Phil Mickelson have desperately tried to separate the LIV organization from the Saudi theocratic monarchy, with Greg Norman saying of Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations and the murder of WaPo reporter Jamaal Khashoggi that “we’ve all made mistakes.”

With the merger, all lawsuits have been dropped, and the only remaining threat is a DOJ antitrust investigation into the PGA, which will be complicated by the merger. The PGA Tour commissioner said the deal will push golf into the future and give fans the best experience.

“Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we’ve always made – to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game’s future,” Monahan said. 

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