PGA Tour-LIV merger: 10 most shocking revelations we learned so far
On Tuesday morning, the golf world was stunned by the news of a merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Not only does the development completely reshape the men’s professional game as we know it, it’s also a staggering about-face from the PGA Tour, which as of one day ago was still involved in active litigation with LIV.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan delivered the news of the merger in a memo to players and appeared on CNBC alongside Yasir Al Rumayyan, governor of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), to discuss how the merger came about.
It’s hard to top the shock-value of the merger itself, but here are 10 other astonishing revelations from the deal.
Monahan and Al Rumayyan actually sat down together
When LIV first came to fruition, Monahan suspended PGA Tour defectors and frequently dismissed the upstart league, publicly refusing to meet with LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman or other Saudi leaders. Ahead of last year’s Travelers Championship, Monahan described LIV as a “foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf.”
“We welcome good healthy competition,” Monahan said, “but the LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It’s an irrational threat that’s not concerned with a return on investment or true growth of the game.’’
Apparently, he changed his tune.
During their joint CNBC appearance, Al Rumayyan said he and Monahan met in London for two lunches and at least one round of golf. On Tuesday, Monahan described the PGA Tour-LIV merger: “Together, we can have a far greater impact on this game than we can working apart.” He then thanked Al Rumayyan for coming to the table with “an open heart and an open mind.”
“The game of golf is better for what we’ve done here today,” Monahan said.
MORE PGA TOUR-LIV MERGER COVERAGE: Player reaction | 21 burning questions & answers | How the merger came to be | Brandel Chamblee sounds off | Rory, Tiger left in the dark | PGA Tour-LIV Golf timeline | Can this happen? A legal expert weighs in | Jay Monahan defends decision
The new PGA Tour-LIV entity will be for-profit — and the Saudi PIF will own a stake
According to Monahan’s letter to Tour members informing them of the merger on Tuesday morning, the PGA Tour Inc. “will remain in place as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization and retains administrative oversight of the PGA Tour, including the sanctioning of events, the administration of the competition and rules, as well as all other ‘inside the ropes’ responsibilities.”
The new, yet-to-be-named entity, however, will be a for-profit LLC, collectively held by the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi PIF, which will have a minority equity ownership share.
Al Rumayyan will join the PGA Tour policy board
The PGA Tour policy board works in tandem with the PGA Tour’s 16-member PAC (Player Advisory Council) on Tour governance issues. The current policy board includes five players and five independent directors, who are generally high-profile business leaders. In Tuesday’s letter, Monahan announced that Al Rumayyan will join that group as a result of the merger. He will also serve as chairman of the Board of Directors on the new entity once it’s established.
The lawsuits are over
Last August, 11 LIV golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour, alleging anticompetitive practices and restraint of trade. While the players slowly withdrew themselves from the suit in the months since, it remained active — until the merger made it disappear.
The merger “brings about an end to all pending litigation between the participating entities and prohibits any further recruitment of PGA Tour, DP World Tour or LIV Golf members,” Monahan’s letter said.
Team golf is here to stay
Team golf isn’t going anywhere. LIV’s schedule will go on as planned in 2023 — and there is likely to be more team golf ahead.
“We will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of LIV Golf and determine how best to integrate team golf into the professional game,” Monahan’s letter said.
LIV golfers can re-join the PGA Tour
As a part of the new merger, players who left the Tour for LIV will now have a pathway back.
According to Monahan, LIV, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour will work cooperatively to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season.
On Golf Channel on Tuesday morning, PGA Tour player Brendon Todd weighed in: “I think for us, out here on the PGA Tour, we were loyal and stuck with it. I think we are little anxious and probably frustrated to hear that potentially some of the LIV players could come back to our Tour just because it doesn’t quite seem fair to a lot of us.”
The Saudi PIF is investing in a big way
With this merger, the Saudi PIF will become a premier corporate sponsor of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and other international tours, with promises of more investment to come.
The players were apparently blindsided
Multiple PGA Tour players took to Twitter to express their utter amazement at the turn of events — an indication that the deal was made without any input from the Tour’s members.
Jay Monahan will get a new title
Not only will Monahan retain his current post as commissioner of the PGA Tour, he’ll also gain a new one, as CEO of the new entity. He’ll also serve on the new entity’s executive committee.
Greg Norman wasn’t mentioned
According to Al Rumayyan, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman was in the dark on the merger just like the rest of us.
“I made a call just before this,” Al Rumayyan said on CNBC, “and of course he is a partner with us, and all the stakeholders that we have with us they had the call right before this interview.”
Norman did not receive a mention in Monahan’s merger announcement either.