PGA Tour and DP World Tour to Merge LIV Golf

PGA Tour and DP World Tour to Merge LIV Golf

PGA Tour and DP World Tour to Merge LIV Golf and Create New Entity They Say Will Unify Golf

In an unexpected announcement released Tuesday morning, the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour announced plans to merge and move forward as one commercial business. In the statement, the merger into a new for-profit company that hasn’t yet been given a name is being called “a landmark agreement to unify the game of golf on a global basis.”

The deal combines the PGA Tour and DP World Tour with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), including LIV Golf. The statement said that the goal of the new league is to “ensure that all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.” 

As a result of this agreement, all lawsuits that were pending from the three sides will be dropped. 

In a memo to players, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said that the PIF would become a premier corporate sponsor of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and other international golf tours.

Monahan will be meeting with players taking part in the RBC Canadian Open on Tuesday afternoon. More answers will likely come then, but as of now, the following answers were given in both the memo and statement:

  • LIV Golf will continue to play its remaining schedule through the end of the 2023 season.
  • A “fair and objective process” will be established for players wanting to re-apply for PGA Tour or DP World Tour membership following the 2023 season. Monahan said that existing policies and bylaws would be adhered to. 
  • LIV’s team concept will move forward in some fashion, but no other details were given.

According to multiple reports, players were taken by surprise at this move. Among those expressing surprise on social media were Collin Morikawa, Phil Mickelson, Mackenzie Hughes, and Dylan Wu.

The PIF was financing LIV Golf, which debuted a year ago this week with an event in London. The PGA Tour promptly issued indefinite suspensions to all players who partook in that event or future LIV tournaments. The DP World Tour also levied fines and suspensions, which were upheld in April by an independent panel in the United Kingdom. 

In the year that followed, the PIF spent hundreds of millions of dollars into $25 million purses at tournaments and huge signing bonuses for top players like Cameron Smith and Dustin Johnson

The press release stated that the PIF will make an initial capital investment into the new entity. A new board of directors will oversee and direct all golf-related commercial operations, businesses, and investments. The PIF will have the exclusive right to further invest in the new entity and have the right of first refusal on any investments by other entities. The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of the board of directors and hold a majority voting interest. Monahan will become chairman of the new group.

The statement said that finalizing the agreement between all parties will take months.

Reaction From PGA Tour and LIV Golf Players Pouring in After Merger Announcement

Tuesday’s news that the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour, and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund that bankrolls LIV Golf would be forming a new for-profit golf league was met with many different emotions, but whether it was positive or negative, the most accurate term would probably be: surprise.

Most golfers were not made aware of the news before it was released Tuesday morning. 

Mackenzie Hughes, a PGA Tour player participating in this week’s RBC Canadian Open, wrote on Twitter, “Nothing like finding out through Twitter that we’re merging with a tour that we said we’d never do that with.”

“I’m guessing the LIV teams were struggling to get sponsors and PGA Tour couldn’t turn down the money. Win-win for both tours,” Byeong Hun An wrote on Twitter, “but it’s a big lose for who defended the [PGA Tour for the] last two years.” 

On the LIV side, there was a more celebratory mood among those who commented on social media.

“Awesome day today,” Phil Mickelson wrote.

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, who was not mentioned by name in Tuesday’s announcement, was nonetheless positive about the news.

“A great day in global golf for players and fans alike. The journey continues!!” Norman posted.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF and the man who will be chairman of the new entity was praised by LIV Golf member Bryson DeChambeau.

“What I can tell you is that … Yasir has always been a staunch supporter of golf globally and wanting to grow the game,” DeChambeau said. “That’s been his vision from the start when we first started talking a few years ago. As it’s come to fruition now, I think this is the best thing that could ever happen to the game of golf.”

Players Get Their Chance to Face Monahan Head On

Later Tuesday, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan met with players competing in the RBC Canadian Open. Based on reports from those who were in the room and also heard audio of the meeting, the meeting was contentious to say the least.

“The sentiment in the room was pretty somber, and Jay was definitely getting attacked,” one anonymous player told Golf Channel. “He handled it OK, but there were times when he could’ve been more accepting and put himself in our shoes more. He was like, ‘I’m doing this for the betterment of the Tour, guys, can’t you see this?’

There were some positive voices in the meeting, but a Golf Channel reporter said it was around 90% negative towards Monahan. Matt Kuchar was said to be one of those looking on the bright side, saying that he was pleased that the PGA Tour will become more of a world tour. 

Geoff Ogilvy was one of the few players who spoke publicly after the meeting, attaching his name to his words. 

“I’m glad I wasn’t Jay today,” Ogilvy told reporters. “There are some grumpy players in there. I feel a little bit sort of, not lied to, but just that the Tour has sort of changed its position quickly and dropped it on us really fast. So, maybe there’s a feeling of a lack of trust a little bit in the leadership. … It just feels like nobody really knows what’s happening and the players are out of the loop. But no one really ever likes being out of a loop. You know, everyone likes a bit of information, especially when it’s your livelihood and your job and the sport that you love.”

To his credit, Monahan showed up and took the criticisms from the players face-to-face. Afterward, he explained his position.

“I recognize everything that I’ve said in the past and my prior positions. I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite,” Monahan said. “Anytime I said anything, I said it with the information that I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that’s trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players. I accept those criticisms, but circumstances do change. I think that in looking at the big picture and looking at it this way, that’s what got us to this point.”

Exactly one year ago, LIV Golf was preparing to hold its first event in London. Monahan, speaking before the RBC Canadian Open in 2022, took a pointed shot at the Saudis and players deciding to join the new circuit.

“I would ask any player who has left or any player who would consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?'” Monahan said last year.

What’s the Mindset of PGA Tour Players?

Naturally, many players feel betrayed after they turned down huge sums of money to join LIV and instead showed loyalty to the PGA Tour. Of note, Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Hideki Matsuyama were all offered at least $300 million to join LIV but declined. 

“I do feel bad for the PGA Tour players because they were told one thing and something else happened, and our side, we were told one thing and it’s come to fruition,” DeChambeau added.

McIlroy spoke prior to the RBC Canadian Open on Wednesday. He had been a staunch opponent of LIV Golf since well before it debuted a year ago this week. He said that he’s okay with the partnership among the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and the PIF—as long as it results in the demise of the LIV Golf tour after this year.

“I still hate LIV,” McIlroy said. “Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I would fully expect that it does. I think that’s where the distinction here is. This is the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and the PIF — very different from LIV.”

At next week’s U.S. Open, we’ll expect to hear from more big names on the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. Among them will include Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler, Phil Mickelson, and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka. One person we will likely not hear from next week is Woods, who isn’t entered in next week’s major as he recovers from surgery he had after the Masters in April.

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