The sports world received the shock of the year on Tuesday after it was announced that the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and the European PGA Tour would all merge into one giant for-profit golf league.
PGA Tour President Jay Monahan issued a lengthy statement announcing the deal:
After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love. 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.
Quite a departure from June of last year when Monahan alluded to Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks and asked players to consider that before bolting the PGA Tour for the Saudi-backed league.
“I have two families that are close to me that lost loved ones,” Monahan said at the RBC Canadian Open. “My heart goes out to them, and I would ask that any player that has left, or that would ever consider leaving, have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?”
Jay Monahan, Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, using 9/11 to shame players last year for taking life changing money from LIV…
Now, he has no problem with the money and merges LIV Golf with the PGA. Disgusting.pic.twitter.com/CUhIodZIpi
— Stephen Geiger (@Stephen_Geiger) June 6, 2023
That stark reversal brought many on Twitter to conclude that in the battle between tainted Saudi “blood money” and the PGA Tour, blood money had won.
Money over morals
— Don Bailey (@Gringolawyer1) June 6, 2023
The PGA Tour has agreed to merge with its Saudi rival LIV Golf because the PGA enjoys large sums of money.
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) June 6, 2023
The PGA Tour convinced many of its players that taking Saudi money from LIV Golf was immoral.
But now the PGA Tour is merging with LIV, creating a new entity with Saudi's sovereign wealth fund as the only outside investor.
The players that turned down the money must be PISSED.
— Joe Pompliano (@JoePompliano) June 6, 2023
Have no idea what the options are for the PGA Tour players regarding "impeachment" of a commissioner, but I can assure you there are many players who were convinced to be loyal, who are now really pissed off.
— Peter Kostis (@peterjkostis) June 6, 2023
PGA tour look like clowns. Complete frauds.
— Paul Bissonnette (@BizNasty2point0) June 6, 2023
PGA Tour didn’t communicate this to players at all. They found out same time we did.
“Shocked and confused.”
“Disgusted. They didn’t tell us anything.”
— Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) June 6, 2023
Saudi Arabia: Hey PGA golfers! We have a bunch of money to offer you for our new league.
PGA Tour: You’re ruining the game and sportswashing your reputation of human rights abuses.
SA: OK but what if we offered *you* a lot of money?
PGA: Today, we’d like to announce a merger w
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) June 6, 2023
Others saw it as a win for the LIV players who bolted the PGA Tour.
The LIV players taking the $$$ and coming back to the PGA Tour pic.twitter.com/FmIXlfOdox
— PGA/LIV Hot Takes (@PGALIVHotTakes) June 6, 2023
Players who signed with LIV Golf before the PGA Tour merger… pic.twitter.com/Q3N9I41he4
— Douglas A. Boneparth (@dougboneparth) June 6, 2023
Either way, very few saw it as a win for the PGA Tour.
I'd like to dedicate this very special 'FUCK YOU' to the PGA Tour. 🖕🏼
— Mayo 🌻 (@MayoIsSpicyy) June 6, 2023
Ultimately, the Saudi-backed LIV had stolen most of the best players in the game, they had already spent $2 billion and planned to spend much more, and they had all the creative ideas for changing the game. Money and ideas rule the world, and that’s why the Chairman of the yet-to-be-named newly merged PGA Tour-LIV Golf League is the head of the Saudi investment Public Investment Fund that runs LIV.
Jay Monahan will be the CEO of the new league. But again, the Saudis have the money and the ideas, so ultimately, they’ll call the shots.
Some think this will end up being a good thing for golf, and perhaps it will. But, Monahan’s allusion to 9/11 and accusing the Saudis of peddling blood money (though that could be true) and accepting this deal, is an extremely bad look.
We now know that the reason this merger took a year was not because the PGA Tour was rejecting the Saudis’ “blood money.” It took a year because the PGA Tour was trying to get as much of that blood money as they could.