PGA Tour, LIV Golf and DP World Tour announce stunning merger

ByJoy Chakravarty, Dubai
Jun 07, 2023 09:59 PM IST

The deal will exchange acrimony for cooperative growth between the top two golf tours and the Saudi-funded series launched last year

The world of golf, fragmented since May last year following the launch of LIV Golf and the ensuing bitter fight with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, is headed towards a surprising truce with the warring parties deciding to come together in a stunning development on Tuesday.

Image used for representational purpose(AP)
Image used for representational purpose(AP)

The news came as a surprise to most involved with the sport, with even the top players of both sides unaware of a ‘merger’, which reportedly was the result of overnight high-level meetings between the PGA Tour and Public Investment Fund (PIF), Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund which conceptualised and funded LIV Golf.

Details were missing in the joint press release that was issued, but a decision was made to form a new and yet-to-be-named for-profit entity. The Tours and PIF will “implement a plan to grow these combined commercial businesses, drive greater fan engagement and accelerate growth initiatives already underway”.

Missing from the release was any quote from LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman, the man who was singled out by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as someone “who needs to go” before any talks could take place.

As things stand, PGA Tour and LIV Golf are both expected to continue hosting events. The qualification criteria for players featuring in the 48-man team championships may be altered, while the players who joined LIV Golf and were banned by both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, are expected to regain their memberships starting with the 2024 season.

India’s Anirban Lahiri, one of the contracted players on LIV Golf, was surprised at the news.

“Personally, definitely surprised. It is quite a shocking, surprising development. Definitely one of those days in the history of golf that you will mark as unexpected. Like all the other players on both sides, nobody knew this was happening or coming,” he said.

“Hard for me to comment much, because we don’t know all the details. However, I can definitely say that being on the so-called “wrong side” of it for the last year, having had to face so much negativity, criticism and alienated by people I thought were friends, it’s a happy day for me.

“We just feel vindicated. We’ve been called a lot of things in the last year by a lot of people. And now suddenly, everybody sees it for what we have all been saying, that it’s two organisations having a fight. If all the propaganda, the disinformation, were true, this merger would not be possible.”

One of the things unsaid in the press release was the future of Asian Tour, which secured a 10-year, $300 million commitment from LIV Golf. “I’m hearing all kinds of rumours, so I won’t speculate. But I think it’s good for golf,” said Lahiri, the highest ranked Indian in men’s golf.

“I just hope that the commitment that LIV Golf and PIF has made to the Asian Tour and the International Series to the grow the game in Asia, that stays unchanged in the middle of all of this.”

Lahiri said the agreement will be good for the world of golf.

“It will be nice not to have negativity in the world of golf, especially the unnecessary criticism that has been directed at the 48 of us or anyone who has been linked with LIV,” added Lahiri, who started his LIV career with a bang finishing second to Dustin Johnson in his debut event in Boston last year.

“This was coming, this had to happen. The world rankings, for instance, have become irrelevant already. So many things in golf have deteriorated. People have lost faith, I think, in pro golf. I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to restore the faith for fans to reintegrate and kind of heal the professional golfing world.”

PIF will make a capital investment into the new entity. The two Tours and PIF will work together to grow team golf going forward. The warring parties have also agreed to mutually end all pending litigations. PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will also join the PGA Tour Policy Board.

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