The PGA Tour has reached a merger agreement with Saudi-backed LIV Golf. The PGA Tour has agreed to join with LIV Golf, a rival organization supported by the Saudi government, to stop litigation between the two organizations.
The PGA Tour and LIV Golf have agreed to merge their commercial operations and rights into a single for-profit entity. The PGA European, or DP World Tour, is a party to the deal.
The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, an organization run by the Saudi crown prince, is a significant investor in LIV Golf, which has been at odds with the PGA Tour in antitrust litigation for the better part of a year. The agreement reached on Tuesday will stop any ongoing court cases.
On Tuesday, Pro Magzine’s David Faber claimed that PIF would invest billions of dollars into the new firm. The terms of the agreement were kept confidential.
According to a memo from PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan to the players, acquired by Pro Magzine, the deal is the second shocking sports deal in as many months following World Wrestling Entertainment’s merger with Endeavor Group’s UFC.
Much work must be done to move from a framework to a definitive agreement. Still, one thing is clear: the PGA Tour’s history, legacy, and pro-competitive model are in good hands with PIF’s pooled investment and this groundbreaking agreement.
In an interview aired on Pro Magzine’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday, PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan said that once the merger is finalized, which he expects to happen “in a matter of weeks,” the new board will be ready to review any proposals that come their way. It has been decided that Al-Rumayyan will take on the role of board chairman.
“Whatever it takes, that’s… what we’re committed for,” Al-Rumayyan told Faber.
When the LIV inked a deal with the CW Network as its exclusive U.S. broadcast partner a few months ago, its bouts began airing on television in the United States. Starting in February, The CW began airing coverage of 14 international events. The length of the multiyear agreement was kept secret.
The CW Network is majority-owned by Nexstar Media Group. The business announced Tuesday that the 2023 schedule for LIV Golf events would remain unchanged.
To unify and expand the game of golf, “Today is an exciting day,” Nexstar stated. Seven more fascinating tournaments featuring the top golfers in the world will be shown this year.
Disputes between two competing lawsuits
Monahan stated that the tour considered golf “on a global basis” as the sport has expanded beyond the United States.
On Pro Magzine on Tuesday, he admitted that tensions had been high between the two groups, but he insisted that “the game of golf is better for what we’ve done today.”
In recent months, both companies have made some antitrust complaints against one another. The PGA Tour’s barring of LIV Golf’s players was cited as “anti-competitive practices” in a lawsuit filed by LIV Golf. Tour countersued, saying LIV was restricting competition. The discovery of evidence became a point of contention.
The PGA Tour had barred some prominent players, including Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson, from competing in LIV’s events, prompting complaints.
A tweet from Mickelson on Tuesday included the phrase “Awesome day today” about the day the companies announced their merger.
Brooks Koepka, a member of the LIV, just won one of golf’s four major championships, the PGA Championship.
The parties to the agreement will set up “a fair and objective process for any players who want to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour or DP World Tour” after the 2023 season concludes.
Launched in 2022 and spending heavily to attract golfers, LIV Golf has been met with controversy, criticism, and political intrigue in the United States. According to reports, PIF has poured $2 billion into LIV to build profitable clubs and teams.
PIF has been accused of “sports washing” by those who are critical of LIV because they believe the league is being used to divert attention away from the kingdom’s record of human rights violations.
Protests against the league have been held, inside and outside of games, by relatives of victims of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers on September 11 were Saudi nationals, and the plot’s architect, Osama bin Laden, was raised there. Despite the lack of evidence linking Saudi officials to the attacks, U.S. officials have decided that Saudi nationals helped support the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
In an interview with CBS Sports last year, Monahan said that he and other tour players had discussed the controversy.
“I think you’d have to be living under a rock not to know there are significant implications,” Monahan remarked in the interview. I’d like to know from every player who has left or is thinking about going: “Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA tour?”
Many LIV Golf tournaments have been hosted by former President Donald Trump, who has defended them by saying that “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11.” Trump also predicted last year on Truth Social that LIV and The PGA Tour would eventually merge into one organization.
Trump shared his thoughts on the deal on Tuesday on Truth Social, saying, “Great news from LIV Golf.” A magnificent and glitzy development for the great game of golf. Good job, everybody!