The PGA Tour and the DP World Tour have settled their differences by agreeing to merge with the Saudi Arabian-backed circuit LIV Golf.
The revelation came as a complete shock, following a year of unparalleled change in the men’s game due to the introduction of LIV.
This implies the tours will stop suing each other and instead work together going forward.
“This is a historic day for the game,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
The PGA Tour and LIV have reached an agreement to merge their respective commercial activities and rights into a single, for-profit entity.
Previously known as the European Tour, the DP World Tour is also covered by the pact.
There has been a schism in men’s professional golf over the past year due to the advent of the LIV circuit, which features no-cut tournaments with large prize pools and a team structure.
The Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), an organization run by the Saudi crown prince and involved in antitrust litigation with the PGA Tour over the past year, is a major investor in LIV Golf.
For DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley, “to partner in this new entity is energizing and exciting,” it is a historic day.
How will golf change now?
His PGA Tour counterpart, Monahan, has stated that teams will continue to play a role in LIV tournaments.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), of which Yasir Al-Rumayyan is governor, is the primary owner of Newcastle United, of which he is chairman.
Al-Rumayyan will serve as chairman of the board of the new business, and Monahan will serve as chief executive officer.
“This transformational partnership recognizes the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s history, legacy, and professional competitive model, and combines it with the DP World Tour and LIV — including the team golf concept — to create an organization that will benefit players, partners, and fans,” said Monahan.
Not only does Yasir Al-Rumayyan’s vision and collaborative and forward-thinking attitude heal the split in our game, but it also shows a dedication to bringing the sport to new heights. This will usher in a new and improved era of golf around the world.
According to a joint press release, negotiations on the agreement’s details will continue over the next months.
“We are committed to unifying, promoting, and growing the game of golf around the world,” Al-Rumayyan stated, “and offering the highest-quality product to the many millions of long-time fans globally, while cultivating new fans.”
There is little doubt that the LIV model has had far-reaching, beneficial effects on the sport of golf. We think the game can grow and change while still honoring its rich history and culture.
The reason for the lawsuit.
LIV Golf has taken over an anti-trust action first filed against the PGA Tour by 11 golfers last August. The trial was set to take place in 2024.
The DP World Tour prevailed in court in April against 12 LIV players who had engaged in “serious breaches” of the Tour’s code of conduct by participating in LIV Golf events without first obtaining authorization from the DP World Tour.
Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, and Henrik Stenson resigned their memberships after receiving higher penalties and suspensions, making them ineligible to compete in this year’s Ryder Cup, which will be held from September 29th to October 1st.
When Stenson signed with LIV, he lost his position as captain of the European squad for the Rome matches, which was filled by Luke Donald.
The new business has promised to create a “fair and objective process” for those players to reapply for membership following the conclusion of the current season.
How have people reacted?
At Donald Trump’s course in Sterling, Virginia, the final LIV tournament of the 2023 season was contested.
The US president announced the good news from LIV Golf on social media. A stunning and important development for the golfing community. Good job, everybody!
6-time major champion Famous golfer Phil Mickelson was among the first to join LIV and he said, “Awesome day today.”
Michael Kim, an American golfer, remarked, “The hell is going on? How many people were aware of this transaction is mysterious. Five to seven people? An organization governed by players, right?
LIV Golf is planning a women’s tour, according to Norman, while the PIF has taken over four Saudi football clubs.
The PIF’s detractors are not going to take kindly to this.
Iain Carter, BBC’s resident golf expert, provides commentary.
The golfing world has been caught aback by this astonishing turn of events. Some of the finest players on the PGA and DP World Tours defected to the LIV circuit, making them bitter rivals.
They saw Greg Norman’s solo tour as a mortal threat and filed a harsh, expensive lawsuit to stop him. The discovery process was growing more and more awkward for LIV’s Saudi Arabian financiers as they faced the possibility of being questioned under oath.
The PGA Tour had already spent much from their reserves in order to introduce a series of $20 million (£16.1 million) tournaments in order to compete with the new tour.
In a sport that couldn’t afford to be divided, the peace dividend was substantial for both camps. Recognizing LIV as “positively transformative for golf” is a remarkable backpedal on the part of the PGA and DP World Tours.
This agreement, however, may represent the immense wealth of Saudi Arabia as a unifying force for the men’s professional game. The PIF’s engagement with LIV has been viewed by some as nothing more than sportswashing for a Kingdom with a questionable human rights record, so this news is unlikely to be well received by its detractors.
It’s unclear how this will affect the game, but everyone involved is relieved that litigation is no longer a concern. Players of LIV also have a means to rejoin the main body of the game.