PGA Tour and LIV Golf Merge — Here’s What We Know
Via Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA Tour, looks on during the closing ceremony after Sunday singles matches on day four of the 2022 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow Country Club on September 25, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In a stunning revelation, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Public Investment Fund, which owns and operates LIV Golf, announced on Tuesday that they have agreed to a historic merger which will end the nearly two-year disruption at the highest level of professional golf that included many of the game’s biggest stars emigrating to the newly formed league.
What Do We Know About the New League?
In the immediate aftermath of this announcement, the news elicits more questions than answers, from, “How were reparations made so quickly?” to, “What does this mean for the future of golf?” to even simply, “What will this apparent ‘super-league’ be called?”
That final query was answered in the announcement – sort of – as the for-profit entity referred to as “TBD” will “ensure that all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.”
The agreement definitively and mutually ends all pending litigation between the tours, which had been lingering for the past year.
As for when and how LIV Golf members will be allowed to compete alongside PGA Tour and DP World Tour members once again in non-major championship tournaments, the announcement states: “The three organizations will work cooperatively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour or 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 2022-23 PGA Tour season is scheduled to end with the Tour Championship on Aug. 27, while the DP World Tour season ends with the DP World Tour Championship on Nov. 19, and LIV Golf concludes its 14-event 2023 campaign in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Nov. 5.
“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” said 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.
“We are pleased to move forward, in step with LIV and PIF’s world-class investing experience, and I applaud PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan for his vision and collaborative and forward-thinking approach that is not just a solution to the rift in our game, but also a commitment to taking it to new heights. This will engender a new era in global golf, for the better.”
All of this is a far cry from the rhetoric which has been spilling out of Ponte Vedra Beach headquarters for the past year, including two months ago, the last time Monahan spoke publicly about the situation at The Players Championship.
“The players that are playing on that tour are contractually obligated to play on that tour,” he offered at the time. “So any hypotheticals at this point really aren't relevant, and I think you know me well enough to know I'm not a big fan of hypotheticals.”
Of those hypotheticals, a merger of commercial operations under common ownership would’ve been considered by most as a non-starter prior to this announcement.
The disruption over the past year included Phil Mickelson referring to his new PIF bosses as “scary mother-f***ers,” skipping major championships, including his PGA Championship title defense, then finishing runner-up at this year’s Masters. Brooks Koepka won this year’s PGA Championship and became the first LIV Golf player to triumph at a major. It also featured so much uncertainty around so many aspects of the game, from LIV’s Henrik Stenson being unceremoniously removed as Ryder Cup captain to the possibilities of LIV players competing for either side later this year.
Golfers Didn't See It Coming
Two current players – one from LIV Golf, one from the PGA Tour – confirmed to me that they had no prior knowledge of this merger taking place, an assertion which was corroborated by plenty of others through social media.
I love finding out morning news on Twitter
— Collin Morikawa (@collin_morikawa) June 6, 2023
They’re not the only ones who didn’t know, it seems.
Speaking in-studio on CNBC while seated next to Monahan, Al-Rumayyan was asked if LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman knew the details of this agreement.
“I made the call,” he revealed, “just before this.”
All of which seems to epitomize a landmark day in professional golf – one which those who are most impacted didn’t know was coming.