GA Tour has made an unexpected decision to merge with its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf
LIV Golf – South African golfer Charl Schwartzel plays a last shot during the LIV Golf Invitational Series in St. Albans, England, in June 2022. The launch of the series rocked the world of golf by setting up rival leagues.
GA Tour has made an unexpected decision to merge with its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf.
The PGA Tour and its rival, LIV Golf, have reached an agreement to merge, as announced by the PGA on Tuesday.
The merger aims to create a unified and global golf enterprise. This move is expected to resolve ongoing litigation and bridge the divide that has characterized men’s professional golf in recent times.
The agreement involves the incorporation of the DP World Tour, resulting in the formation of a new for-profit entity. The primary objective of this entity will be to generate maximum excitement and competition among the world’s top players. It is important to note that the PGA will maintain its not-for-profit and tax-exempt status.
Under the terms of the deal, the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund will become the exclusive investor in the newly established company, which is yet to be named. The PGA will hold the majority of board seats, and the chairman position will be held by Yasir al-Rumayyan, the governor of the wealth fund.
Jay Monahan, the current PGA Tour Commissioner, is set to assume the role of Chief Executive Officer in the merged entity, according to the announcement
Monahan expressed his enthusiasm for the merger
LIV Golf – In a statement, Monahan expressed his enthusiasm for the merger, stating that it marks a historic day for the beloved game of golf. He assured fans that the new entity will promote the highest level of competition and secure the future of the sport.
The unexpected agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf comes after a period of growing tensions between the two organizations.
Last summer, the dispute between the PGA and LIV began to escalate when LIV Golf, with its Saudi backing, successfully attracted prominent players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson by offering substantial cash prizes and lucrative contracts. The exodus of players to the new series prompted the PGA to impose sanctions on 17 individuals who had defected, with the threat of taking similar actions against others who followed suit. Nine of the initially sanctioned players had already resigned from the PGA.
In response, 11 of the suspended players filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA in August, accusing the organization of operating as a monopoly and causing harm to their professional careers. The PGA, in turn, counter-sued LIV Golf, alleging that the rival group was impeding competition.
LIV Golf’s association with Saudi Arabia has raised concerns beyond the realm of golf. Critics of LIV Golf have accused the new series of engaging in “sportswashing,” a tactic used by countries like China and Russia to improve their global image without addressing their human rights abuses.
The PGA Tour had previously echoed sentiments
LIV Golf – The PGA Tour had previously echoed these sentiments, accusing LIV Golf players of betraying the United States and turning a blind eye to human rights violations. One LIV tournament even took place at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which is in close proximity to Ground Zero, the site where thousands lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks.
Families who lost loved ones in the tragedy expressed their outrage towards both the golfers and Donald Trump for conducting business with Saudi Arabia.
They pointed to evidence suggesting that the Saudi government may have knowingly assisted the hijackers responsible for the devastating attacks.
The nonprofit organization 9/11 Families United strongly criticized the PGA Tour in a statement following the news of the merger, accusing the organization of aligning with Saudi Arabia to rehabilitate the country’s reputation.
Terry Strada, chair of 9/11 Families United and whose husband Tom died in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, expressed her dismay by stating, “Now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones.”
The agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf will include provisions regarding the conditions under which LIV players can rejoin the PGA.
While there were critics of the deal, not everyone expressed opposition. LIV golfer Phil Mickelson showed his support by retweeting news of the agreement along with a smiling face emoji and the phrase “awesome day today.”
Former President Trump
Former President Trump also praised the merger in a post on his social media platform, Truth Social, describing it as a significant and glamorous development for the world of golf.
The announcement of the agreement comes shortly after LIV golfer Brooks Koepka won the PGA Championship, which sparked renewed discussions and debates about the inclusion of LIV players in PGA event It’s worth noting that NPR’s Bill Chappell and Tom Goldman contributed to the reporting on this matter.