'Stunning' Merger Pairs PGA With Saudi's LIV Tour

Agreement appears to end an acrimonious year in world of pro golf
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 6, 2023 10:06 AM CDT
In Surprise, PGA to Merge With Saudis' LIV Golf
Phil Mickelson plays a shot during the final round of LIV Golf DC at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, DC, on May 28 in Sterling, Virginia.   (Photo by LIV Golf via AP)

The most disruptive year in golf ended Tuesday when the PGA Tour and European Tour agreed to a merger with Saudi Arabia's golf interests, creating a commercial operation designed to unify professional golf around the world, per the AP. As part of the deal, the sides are dropping all lawsuits involving LIV Golf against each other effective immediately. Still to be determined is how players like Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who defected to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf for nine-figure bonuses, can rejoin the PGA Tour after this year. Also unclear was what form the LIV Golf League would take in 2024. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo to players that a thorough evaluation would determine how to integrate team golf into the game.

The agreement combines the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund's golf-related commercial businesses and rights—including LIV Golf—with those of the PGA and European tours. The new entity hasn't been named. "They were going down their path, we were going down ours, and after a lot of introspection you realize all this tension in the game is not a good thing," Monahan said in a phone interview with the AP. "We have a responsibility to our tour and to the game, and we felt like the time was right to have that conversation."

Alan Blinder of the New York Times describes the move as "stunning," though he adds that it's "an end result that many in golf had believed was a distinct possibility from the time LIV burst into the sport last year." Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, will join the board of the PGA Tour, which continues to operates its tournaments. Al-Rumayyan will be chairman of the new commercial group, with Monahan as the CEO and the PGA Tour having a majority stake in the new venture. The PIF will invest in the commercial venture. Monahan said the decision came together over the last seven weeks.

(More PGA Tour stories.)

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