PGA Tour, DP World Tour to partner with Saudis and end LIV Golf litigation
In what PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan called, “a momentous day for [the Tour] and the game of golf,” the Tour, DP World Tour, LIV Golf and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia announced the creation of a “new commercial entity to unify golf.”
In a memo to players, Monahan highlighted a plan to reunite the professional game through a “framework agreement” with the PIF, which created and owns 93 percent of LIV Golf. Although the memo, and a press release, were short on details, the agreement will create a new entity that will “include the PGA Tour’s commercial businesses and rights, as well as those of the DP World Tour” into a for-profit entity that “delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.”
Under the agreement, Monahan will be the chief executive officer of the new entity and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF, will join the Tour’s policy board and become chairman of the new entity. The Tour will remain a non-profit and its policy board will retain control of all events and all “inside the ropes” responsibilities.
“The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of the board and hold a majority voting interest in the combined entity,” the memo read.
LIV Golf’s launch last year led to the most contentious period in professional golf with players who joined the breakaway circuit suspended by the PGA Tour and European circuit and an antitrust lawsuit that escalated to include the PIF and Al-Rumayyan in U.S. District Court.
Under the agreement, that legal wrangling is over. “Today’s announcement brings about an end to all pending litigation,” the memo read.
How LIV Golf and its team golf concept integrates into the current ecosystem remains to be seen and the memo to players said the current LIV schedule will “continue as planned.”
Players who joined LIV Golf and were suspended and fined by the PGA Tour and European circuit will also be allowed to re-apply for membership.
“This is a complicated endeavor and one that will be guided by established PGA Tour rules and regulations,” the memo read. Just last week at the Memorial, officials claimed there was “no policy” for players who joined LIV Golf to return to the Tour.
The financial investment from the PIF into the new united entity will include a premier corporate sponsorship of the PGA Tour and the fund will also make “an additional investment in the new entity that will allow us to build an even stronger and more robust commercial business, together.”
Monahan planned to meet with players at this week’s RBC Canadian Open at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday, but he will face a confused and somewhat hostile room.
“You don’t trash people [the PIF and Saudi Arabia] like this and then have a sudden drastic change of heart and then go into business with them,” said one player who asked not to be identified. “There has to be way more to this than we are being told.”