Will Rivals PGA Tour and LIV Golf Merge?

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The PGA Tour announced a merger with Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf on Tuesday morning. This agreement ended a bitter rivalry between golfers of both organizations, which had been characterized by lawsuits and trash-talking.

The merger includes the DP World Tour (also known as the European PGA Tour). The new company will be for-profit, but will still receive some support from Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia will therefore have some control.

Two entities have signed an agreement to combine the PGA Tour’s and LIV Golf’s commercial rights and businesses into a new for-profit but yet-to-be-named company. The agreement also includes DP World Tour (also known as the European PGA Tour).

LIV Golf, backed by Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (SAPIF), an entity controlled and owned by Saudi Crown Prince, has been involved in antitrust suits with the PGA Tour over the past year. The agreement announced on Tuesday will end all litigation.

David Faber, a CNBC reporter, reported Tuesday that PIF was willing to invest billions in the new entity. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

In the press release announcing this merger, it is stated that the merger will be a “landmark” agreement to unify golf on a worldwide basis. As part of the agreement, all three groups must come up with a “fair and objective process” for players who wish to reapply for membership to the PGA Tour, or DP World Tour, by the end of the current season.

The full report is available here:

The agreement ends the litigation and establishes a common goal of promoting the game worldwide for all parties benefit.

NEW YORK, RIYADH, PONTE VEDRA, Florida, 6th June 2023 – The PGA TOUR and DP World Tour, along with the Public Investment Fund, announced today a historic agreement to unify golf on a worldwide basis. The parties signed an agreement to combine PIF’s commercial golf businesses and rights, including LIV Golf, with those of the PGA TOUR, DP World Tour, and other commercial entities. This will create a new for-profit, collectively-owned entity that is designed to maximize excitement and competition between the best players in the sport.

PIF will also invest capital in the new entity, to help it grow and succeed. The new entity, (name TBD), will implement a strategy to grow the combined commercial businesses and drive greater fan engagement. It will also accelerate growth initiatives that are already underway. LIV Golf is in its second and groundbreaking season. The PGA TOUR will be working with the DP World Tour, PIF, and the PGA TOUR to promote and grow team golf going forward.

The announcement of today will be followed, by mutual agreement, by the end of all litigation pending between the parties. The three organizations will also work in good faith and cooperation to create a fair, objective, and fair process for players to reapply to join the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour after the end of the 2023 golf season. They will determine fair criteria and re-admission terms, in accordance with each Tour’s policies.

“After two long years of disruption, distraction, and disarray, today is a historic moment for the game that we all love,” said PGA TOUR commissioner Jay Monahan. This transformational partnership recognizes PGA TOUR’s immeasurable strength, legacy, and pro-competitiveness model, and combines it with the DP World Tour, LIV, and the team golf concept to create an organization that will benefit the golf’s players, charitable and commercial partners, and fans. Fans can rest assured that, going forward, we will deliver on our promise to promote the best of professional golf competition and to secure and drive the game’s long-term future.

“We’re pleased to be moving forward in line with LIV and PIF’s world-class investment experience. I applaud PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan’s vision and collaborative, forward-thinking, approach, which is not only a solution for the rift in our sport but also a commitment to take it to new levels.” This will usher in a new, better era of global golf.

Yasir al-Rumayyan, Governor of PIF said: “Today marks a special day for the game and all the people who are touched by it around the globe.” “We are excited to partner with PGA TOUR and leverage PIF’s unmatched success and track records of unlocking value, bringing innovation and best practices to businesses and sectors around the world. We are committed to unifying, promoting, and growing the sport of golf worldwide and offering the best quality product to millions of longtime fans while cultivating new ones.

There is no doubt that the LIV has positively transformed golf. We think there are many opportunities for golf to continue its rich history and traditions while still evolving. This partnership is the best way to increase and extend the impact of golf. “We look forward to working with Jay and Keith in order to bring the best possible version of golf to communities all over the world.”

The Board of Directors of this new entity, under the terms of the agreement, will supervise and direct all of the entity’s commercial golf operations, businesses, and investments. The new entity is working to create a schedule of events that are exciting for sponsors, fans, and all other stakeholders. PIF, along with the PGA TOUR LIV Golf, and the DP World Tour, will be the initial exclusive investors in the new entity. PIF has the exclusive right, going forward, to invest further in the entity. This includes a first right of refusal on capital that could be invested into the entity. The PGA TOUR is responsible for appointing a majority on the Board and will hold a majority vote interest in the combined entity.

PGA TOUR Inc., a 501(c),(6) tax-exempt organization, will continue to be in place and retain administrative oversight for events. This includes sanctioning events, administration of competitions and rules as well as other “inside-the-ropes” responsibilities. Jay Monahan is the Commissioner, and Ed Herlihy is the PGA TOUR Policy Board Chair. Yasir al-Rumayyan, the Governor of PIF, will join PGA TOUR Policy Board. The DP World Tour, LIV Golf, and the PGA TOUR will maintain similar administrative oversight for events on their respective Tours.

Al-Rumayyan will be the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the new commercial entity, and Monahan will be the Chief Executive Officer. The Board will also have an Executive Committee, which will consist of Al-Rumayyan and Monahan. Herlihy will also serve on the Executive Committee, as well as PGA TOUR Policy Board Member Jimmy Dunne. The full Board is expected to be announced later, with all three founding members represented.

Keith Pelley said, “This is a historic day.” We are thrilled to be able not only to reignite our partnership with PIF but also to build upon our current Strategic Alliance Partnership with the PGA TOUR. Together, we will be better than ever positioned to take the game around the world. “To partner with this new entity, and to influence the growth and development of the game for our DP World Tour Members is energizing.

In the coming months, all parties will be working to finalize the terms of the agreement. Details will be announced at the appropriate time.