Report: U.S. Justice Department to investigate PGA Tour-PIF deal
Last week’s announcement that the PGA Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia had reached a “framework” agreement to create a new entity has drawn the attention of the Justice Department.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, a Tour official informed employees that the Justice Department plans to review the agreement for antitrust concerns. That review could delay the implementation of the agreement and cast doubt on the deal that was supposed to end the turf war between the Tour, LIV Golf, which is funded by the PIF, and the DP World Tour.
A source with the Tour who is familiar with the review said the circuit has been cooperating with the Justice Department and that this is an extension of the preexisting investigation. The source also said that it would not be unusual for the DOJ to review transactions of this profile.
The broad terms of the agreement call for an end to all litigation between the Tour, LIV Golf and the PIF and a pathway back to the Tour for players who joined the breakaway circuit but there were few other details. The Tour’s policy board is scheduled to meet in two weeks to begin work on a more definitive agreement.
The ongoing Justice Department investigating of the Tour could be complicated even more by the possibility of a similar review of the DP World Tour in Europe.
News of the intensified review is not a surprise given the push back from lawmakers since the agreement was announced.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent a letter to Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman on Monday asking for documents relating to the deal.
Two days later Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to examine the deal for potential antitrust violations, according to ESPN.com.
Lawmakers were likely not pleased by a letter sent to them by Monahan last week explaining the framework of the agreement and claiming that Congress left the Tour “on [its] own” against LIV Golf and the PIF.