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Unsealed LIV emails show more of Al-Rumayyan’s initial involvement

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Attorneys for LIV Golf narrowed the focus of what it hopes to keep sealed in the “interest of simplifying the dispute” with The New York Times, which filed a motion in U.S. District Court in June to unseal much of the discovery in the antitrust case between the startup league, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the PGA Tour.

In filings on Thursday, LIV moved to unseal parts of 62 different documents while maintaining that much of the discovery from the lawsuits, including the Shareholder Agreement between LIV and the PIF, which owns 95 percent of the new league, should remain sealed due to the confidentiality of the information and the potential to cause the league harm.

Much of the unsealed information has already become public or is now considered stale, but the new disclosures do create a more complete picture of how LIV Golf was created.

According to one unsealed memo, LIV reached out to the PGA Tour in an April 2021 letter: “The entire team and [LIV CEO Greg Norman] have tremendous respect for the PGA Tour and what it continues to accomplish. We view our proposition as an opportunity for genuine collaboration, which would further energize the game. We believe it is also a platform for strategic development and new investment opportunity for professional golf.”

The memo went on to explain the league would be “positioned as additive, healthy competition that will seek to comply with the existing global golf governance framework.” Despite this, “some parts of the existing establishment have nevertheless perceived it as a threat and may be making efforts to divert the league from launch,” the memo read.

In June the Tour, the PIF and the DP World Tour announced a framework agreement that ended the litigation with prejudice and opened the door to negotiations toward a potential definitive agreement that would create a new, for-profit entity that would include the Tour, LIV Golf and the DPWT.

The newly unredacted discovery included a July 2022 email from Atul Khosla, LIV’s chief operating officer before he left the startup league after the first season, to LIV staff members that gives a glimpse into PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan’s involvement in the league.

“Need to show [Al-Rumayyan] we have looked to change the [media] narrative – I am trying to think how best we can provide update/screen shot of key articles, what we have in the works, chatter on social media?” Khosla wrote. “Get him comfortable that we are moving things in the right direction.”

The new disclosures also included a “LIV Golf-PIF Operating Model” of weekly, monthly and quarterly meetings with Al-Rumayyan included on some of the agendas.

Internal emails dating back to 2021 about “Project Wedge,” the name initially used by PIF for what would become LIV Golf, reference one of the first meetings between Norman, Al-Rumayyan and “lawyers of the players” in New York City in September, before the group traveled to Wisconsin to attend the Ryder Cup.