By Peter Gleason
The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf League, which have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle for more than a year, have agreed to unify into a larger commercial business.
The tours called the stunning development “a landmark agreement … on a global basis.”
“There’s been a lot of tension in our sport over the last couple years,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan told CNBC.
“What we’re talking about today is coming together to unify the game of golf, and to do so under one umbrella.
“… We’ve recognized that together, we can have a far greater impact on this game than we can working apart. … The game of golf is better for what we’ve done here today.”
The landmark deal between the tours and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was reached without the knowledge of many PGA Tour members and LIV Golf players and agents.
Said one PGA Tour player reached by ESPN on Tuesday, “No f—ing way.”
A golf agent, who represents a couple of high-profile LIV Golf players, told ESPN that he was unaware of the merger.
“You just made my heart skip a few beats,” the agent said, before the deal was officially announced.
In a statement, the circuits said the parties have signed an agreement that “combines PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf) with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.”
The circuits said the agreement ends all pending litigation between the parties.
The three tours said they 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 or DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season.”
“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” Monahan said in a statement. “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.”
Monahan scheduled a players meeting for 4 p.m. ET today in Toronto, the site of this week’s RBC Canadian Open. A player told ESPN that the PGA Tour’s player advisory committee met with United States Golf Association officials in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday. Monahan and other PGA Tour executives attended the meeting as well, but there was no discussion about a potential merger with LIV Golf.
The LIV Golf League, which was being financed by PIF and fronted by two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman, and 11 of its players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, had sued the PGA Tour in federal court last year, alleging that the PGA Tour had used its monopoly power to squash competition and influence vendors, media companies and others to avoid working with LIV Golf.
The PGA Tour filed a countersuit, alleging that LIV Golf had interfered with its contracts with players.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan is now golf’s most powerful man after becoming chairman of the merged PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf.
He’s a trusted advisor of Saudi crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman & chairman of Newcastle.
This is the story of his rise to power.#NUFC
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) June 6, 2023