LIV Golf and PGA Tour merger, explained: Why golf’s rival tours joined forces to ‘unify the game’

The collaboration between the PIF and the PGA Tour resulted in numerous months of discussions between PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and Saudi Public Investment Fund governor, which led to the remarkable twist of events. Presently, the PGA Tour and LIV Golf have become allies in the golf industry after an unexpected shift in June 2023, following a couple of years of verbal disagreements, legal documents, and animosity.

Monahan celebrated following the news, considering the move as somewhat of a triumph for the realm of golf, appealing to both its players and enthusiasts.

After two years of disruption and distraction, this historic day is a testament to the love and appreciation we all have for the game. Monahan stated, “We recognize the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s pro-competitive model and the transformational partnership it creates, combining the LIV Golf and World DP Tour teams into an organization that will benefit both charitable and commercial players in the golf community.”

MORE: Who will participate in LIV Golf in 2023? Updated roster of PGA Tour deserters.

I acquired this information about when, how, and why to ask questions. There are still uncertainties surrounding everything and the players’ exceptional abilities. This merger signifies the potential for advancement in the sport of golf.

The statement released by PGA Tour on June 6 cited the benefits of wanting to merge the European Tour and the PGA Tour entities, in efforts to drive the future of the game and help it grow, according to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan.

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.

Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan of the Saudi Public Investment Fund stated:

Today is a very exciting day for this special game and the people it touches around the world. 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. We look forward to collaborating with Jay and Keith to bring the best version of the game to communities around the world.

At the time of the merger, the lawsuit faced various setbacks, such as delays and being invalidated in federal court. Despite the numerous business implications, which are mostly advantageous for all parties involved, it is not merely superficial pleasantries. The PGA Tour will maintain its tax-exempt status, which was at risk due to an antitrust lawsuit filed by LIV Golf lawyers in November.

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The PGA Tour (and its tax-exempt status as a non-profit organization) is advantageous for the merger, as all ongoing legal disputes, including the antitrust lawsuit, have been dismissed.

In a move to conclude the golf conflict, it brings together the PGA Tour and LIV Golf in one place, sharing the same space, under the same organization, known as a collaboration between the PGA Tour, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), and rather than a complete merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, with that objective in mind.

Golf LIV hosted its inaugural tournaments in 2022, attracting some of the world’s top and most renowned players from the PGA Tour, including Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, and Cameron Smith, among others.

As per reports, the CW television venture in the United States has mostly failed to attract a significant audience, LIV has been facing difficulties in attracting viewers to its content.

MORE: LIV Golf rankings, clarified — Why television viewership is a significant enigma.

What implications does this have for the PGA Tour?

There are three distinct aspects to the merger: The business, the sport, and the administration.

Al-Rumayyan will also be present on the board, with Monahan assuming the role of CEO for the new organization. The PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour will be managed and supervised by all three individuals. Although the specific mechanisms and distinctions between the merged products are yet to be clarified, the primary focus is on establishing the business.

The funds from the PIF are received. This is where the new parent company functions and manages the entire undertaking, envisioning it as a yet-to-be-named fresh entity.

The PGA Tour stands to benefit greatly from the various financial consequences and funds available to players. The substantial amount of money, estimated to be worth $640 billion, will serve as a significant source of income for the PGA Tour. This new influx of funds will be provided by the PIF, ultimately supporting the creation of the new entity.

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It is evident that the PGA Tour will receive a fresh influx of funds from the PIF, indicating that the financial dynamics of the PGA Tour will undergo modifications, including the sponsorship of events and more by the PIF, although the exact nature of these changes is yet to be determined.

Monahan reiterated that the PGA Tour will retain the oversight of administrative rules and policies, including the sanctioning of events, as the commissioner. In the aftermath of the merger, there may not be many changes on the course, but PIF could potentially become the primary corporate sponsor of the PGA Tour.

🚨🚨🚨 Breaking. The letter sent to players just now from Jay. Holy cow. pic.twitter.com/12A4X8nCTX

The PGA Tour will have a different look in the coming years, with more contracts, sponsors, and tournaments, but there have been no reports on whether it will be a significant change or not.

It is noteworthy that the letter penned by PGA Commissioner Monahan posits the idea of incorporating a golf team into the fold, which is currently a staple of Golf’s LIV format. If it exists in 2023 and beyond, there may be no official word on what Golf LIV will be.

As per professional golfer Dustin Johnson, the golf circuit will remain in existence until 2024, but there is no guarantee beyond that.

Johnson said, “They are still working on a full schedule for next year. You know as much as I do. As far as I know, the rest of this year and 2024 are going to be the same.”

Additionally, it should be noted that the players who were suspended from the PGA Tour and had their cards revoked will have the opportunity to regain them.

The PGA Tour’s change in attitude, stating that a U.S. Senate subcommittee is conducting an inquiry into the possible merger, raises some concerns. The government’s involvement in the deal could result in bureaucratic delays.

Richard Blumenthal, the Sen. From Connecticut, wrote a letter to both LIV Golf Executives and Jay Monahan. The agreement announced raises serious questions regarding the terms and reasons behind it, as well as the role of the Saudi government’s arm, known as PIF. There are very few details known about the agreement.

Today I am opening a probe into the PGA Tour merger as Chair of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. I am demanding information from PGA & LIV on how they came to this agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund & how this new entity will be structured & operated. pic.twitter.com/zR5AhwU3PS

General Attorney Garland Merrick requested that Sens. Ron Wyden and Elizabeth Warren further investigate the potential merger. Additionally, Assistant AG Jonathan Kanter and others mention the efforts of the Saudi regime to “monopolize” the golf deal, citing their attempts to improve their image through “sportswash.”

.@PGATOUR’s deal to monopolize U.S. golf with @livgolf_league could hurt competition and help the Saudi regime to “sportswash” its egregious human rights record. @RonWyden and I are calling on @TheJusticeDept to scrutinize this deal under antitrust law.https://t.co/IhjTNu0mDy

However, there are some governments overseas that may also be involved in the operations of the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the LIV Golf Tour, as well as the PIF Tour.

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MORE: Winners and losers of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger – Who benefited from the deal?

Who is in charge of operating LIV Golf?

Things become a bit strange when it comes to the current hierarchy of LIV Golf.

It would appear that he is sitting on the throne of golf, with Yasir Al-Rumayyan and the Public Investment Fund (PIF) taking a financial stake in the PGA Tour and being placed on the PGA Tour’s policy board.

Greg Norman, the vibrant personality and spokesperson of LIV Golf since its beginning, is currently in a state of uncertainty. This implies that Jay Monahan, as the new CEO of the merged organization, has become the official authority figure of LIV Golf and all its affiliated components.

Norman was notified about the merger only moments before his scheduled appearance on CNBC, and Al-Rumayyan candidly acknowledged that he was not included in the initial press release. Interestingly, the CEO of LIV Golf found this information intriguingly.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan on whether Greg Norman knows about this: “I made the call just before this [interview on CNBC]. 👀

The PGA Tour has sent documents to the U.S. Government indicating that Monahan is involved in the merger regarding the future of LIV. It is unclear whether the future of Golf LIV will be at its worst or best, but it seems that it will come to an end.

Monahan stated that in the coming years, the tour could potentially entail significant modifications or even the discontinuation of LIV Golf as it exists presently, starting from 2024 onwards.

Monahan stated earlier, “I am unable to envision that particular situation, however, I have not yet received the comprehensive assessment, the complete empirical evaluation of LIV that I intend to conduct in order to provide any comments on that.” “However, I do not perceive that particular situation. In my opinion, any scenarios that you are contemplating which connect the PGA Tour and LIV would be of a more extended duration,” Monahan expressed.

Even if it exists or runs, what will remain constant are the questions over Golf LIV and the one thing that Rory McIlroy still hates: them.

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