PGA Tour to merge with rival Saudi-backed LIV Golf

Dustin Johnson and LIV Golf competitors could reapply for membership with the PGA Tour after the 2023 season as part of a merger between golf leagues. File Photo by Peter Foley/UPI
1 of 5 | Dustin Johnson and LIV Golf competitors could reapply for membership with the PGA Tour after the 2023 season as part of a merger between golf leagues. File Photo by Peter Foley/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- After two years of legal battles, player feuds and tournament banishments, the PGA Tour and Saudi-funded LIV Golf agreed to a merger, the rival leagues announced Tuesday.

Europe's DP World Tour also is part of the merger.


Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which finances LIV Golf and is valued at more than $600 billion, will combine its golf-related commercial businesses and rights with those of the other tours into a "collectively owned, for-profit entity," the parties said in a news release.

The name of the new golf entity has not been determined.

The Public Investment Fund will make a capital investment as part of the merger. The parties "mutually agreed" to end all pending litigation.

"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 the 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.

"Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we've always made -- to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game's future."

The golf partners said players who were suspended or left the tours to participate in LIV Golf could return for the 2024 season.

"Further, the three organizations will work cooperatively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to reapply for membership with the PGA Tour for the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season and for determining fair criteria and terms of re-admission, consistent with each tour's policies," the release said.

Monahan will remain commissioner of the PGA Tour. Ed Herlihy will continue to serve as PGA Tour policy board chairman. Public Investment Fund governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will join the PGA Tour policy board.


Al-Rumayyan was appointed chairman of the board of directors for the new entity. Monahan was named chief executive officer. The parties are still finalizing financial terms of the agreement.

"Today is a very exciting day for this special game and the people it touches around the world," Al-Rumayyan said. "We are proud to partner with the PGA Tour to leverage PIF's unparalleled success and track record of unlocking value and bringing innovation and global best practices to business and sectors worldwide.

"We are committed to unifying, promoting and growing the game of golf around the world and offering the highest-quality product to the many millions of long-time fans globally, while cultivating new fans.

"There is no question that the LIV model has been positively transformative for golf. We believe there are opportunities for the game to evolve while also maintaining its storied history and tradition.

"This partnership represents the best opportunity to extend and increase the impact of golf for all."

No. 9 Cameron Smith, No. 13 Brooks Koepka, No. 34 Joaquin Niemann and No. 47 Patrick Reed are among the Top 50 players who joined LIV Golf.


No. 54 Abraham Ancer, No. 77 Talor Gooch, No. 82 Phil Mickelson, No. 87 Dustin Johnson, No. 98 Bryson DeChambeau, No. 228 Sergio Garcia and No. 304 Bubba Watson are among other notable LIV Golf competitors.

Several of those golfers said they chose to join the rival tour because of its flexible schedule and lucrative contracts worth more than $100 million.

LIV Golf was founded in 2021 and started play in 2022.

Mickelson, DeChambeau and nine other players sued the PGA Tour in federal court in August as part of an antitrust lawsuit, attempting to overturn suspensions and seeking permission to participate in PGA Tour events.

They also alleged that the tour used its power to "threaten" golfers, sponsors, vendors and agents to avoid working with LIV Golf, which joined the lawsuit.

The PGA Tour filed a countersuit in September. All 11 of the players initially involved in the lawsuit later withdrew.

The Department of Justice also opened up an investigation into the PGA Tour last year for anti-competitive behavior in connection to LIV Golf. Investigators met with several players and PGA Tour lawyers last month as part of that probe.

The New York Times and Washington Post reported that the Department of Justice also requested records from the Trump Organization in connection to its dealings with LIV Golf. Several LIV Golf tournaments have been held at Trump properties in Bedminster, N.J., Washington, D.C., and Miami.


Trump has expressed support for LIV Golf and attended several tournaments.

"Great news from LIV Golf," Trump wrote Tuesday on his Truth Social account, in response to the LIV Golf merger. "A big, beautiful and glamorous deal for the wonderful world of golf. Congrats to all!"

Last month, Koepka became the first LIV Golf competitor to win a major title while playing on the rival tour when he hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy at the 2023 PGA Championship.

The PGA Tour's RBC Canadian Open will be held from Thursday through Sunday at Oakdale Golf & Country Club in Toronto. LIV Golf Valderrama is the next tournament on the LIV schedule. That tournament will be held from June 30 to July 2 at Real Club Valderrama in Cadiz, Spain.

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