PGA and Saudi-backed LIV Golf agree to shocking merger
Professional golf’s brief but intense battle is over.
Leaders of the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf spent years locked in a fight over the future of golf, trading barbs during media interviews that gave way to lawsuits.
On Tuesday, the rival groups announced a shocking merger, setting aside pending litigation.
The PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which operates LIV Golf, reached an agreement that combines PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses and rights with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity. The agreement also encompasses the DP World Tour (also known as the European Tour). The new group’s name will be announced at a later date.
“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a news release. “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.”
With its robust paychecks and far less rigorous event schedule, LIV Golf hosted its first event last year and lured some of the sport’s biggest stars, among them Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnston, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and Brooks Koepka, who is coming off a victory at the PGA Championship.
Last month, LIV’s chief executive, Greg Norman, spoke about the possibility of bringing events to Ireland.
“Our calendar and the opportunity within our calendar on a global basis is filling up very quickly,” Norman told BBC Sport NI. “We’re looking at 2025, 2026, 2027 and 2028 now.
“The popularity and success have spoken for itself, so yes, countries like Ireland who are passionate golf countries, passionate destination countries, not only for Americans but for Europeans to go play there.”
LIV is backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which is controlled by the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The royal family’s ties to human rights violations added to the protests of the breakaway tour.
Norman was a fiery advocate for the LIV golfers, often delivering colorful interviews and seething criticism of PGA Tour leadership. It seemed unlikely the two sides would resolve disputes over player access to major events and other key issues through anything other than litigation, but the vast amount of money in play and desire to grow the game appeared to help facilitate a resolution.
Current PGA Tour players posted on social media they were caught off guard by the announcement.
Mickelson, who was arguably the highest profile player to join LIV, celebrated the merger news.
This is a developing news story. Check back soon for updates.