Despite claims of “blood money,” immorality, and antitrust violations, the PGA Tour has decided to merge with LIV Golf, their Saudi-backed rival which is funded by an investment group run by the Saudi prince.
Under the deal, the two organizations will end pending litigation and join all commercial businesses owned by the former rivals into one golf league. The deal would also include the merging of the DP World Tour, also known as the European PGA Tour.
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.
In this, Monahan strikes a very different tone from the tone he struck in June of last year when he 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?”
Less than a year later, Monanhan is applauding the leader of the Said investment fund backing LIV for “his vision and collaborative and forward-thinking approach.”
The irony of which was not lost on Fox News’ Byron York who promptly asked, “What about all the blood on hands?”
AS CNBC reports:
Critics of LIV have also accused PIF of ‘sportswashing’ by using the league to distract from the kingdom’s history of human rights violations.
Family members of those that perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have protested the league, including outside of events. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were from Saudi Arabia, and Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks, was born in the country. It has been concluded by U.S. officials that Saudi nationals helped fund the terrorist group al-Qaida, although investigations didn’t find that the Saudi officials were complicit in the attacks.
‘Today is a very exciting day for this special game and the people it touches around the world,’ said PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan. “We are proud to partner with the PGA TOUR to leverage PIF’s unparalleled success and track record of unlocking value and bringing innovation and global best practices to business and sectors worldwide. We are committed to unifying, promoting and growing the game of golf around the world and offering the highest-quality product to the many millions of long-time fans globally, while cultivating new fans.
“There is no question that the LIV model has been positively transformative for golf. We believe there are opportunities for the game to evolve while also maintaining its storied history and tradition. This partnership represents the best opportunity to extend and increase the impact of golf for all. We look forward to collaborating with Jay and Keith to bring the best version of the game to communities around the world.”
The statement continued, “The Board of Directors of the new commercial entity will include Al-Rumayyan as Chairman and Monahan as Chief Executive Officer; the new entity’s Board will also include an Executive Committee comprising Al-Rumayyan, Monahan, Herlihy and PGA TOUR Policy Board member Jimmy Dunne. The full Board will be announced at a later date, and it is anticipated that all three founding members will have representation.”
The deal includes “a fair and objective process for any players who want to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour or DP World Tour” following the end of the 2023 season.