The PGA Tour merges with the Saudi-Arabian–backed LIV Golf
The GIST: After months of tension, the PGA Tour made a shocking reversal yesterday, joining forces with their rival, the Saudi Arabian–backed LIV Golf, claiming the decision was made in an effort “to unify the game.” Sure, Jan.
The context: LIV Golf officially launched in June 2022 in an effort to compete with the PGA Tour, bringing with it plenty of controversy thanks to face palm–worthy comments from star golfer Phil Mickelson, who helped thrust LIV’s sportswashing for the Saudi government into the spotlight.
- Given Saudi’s atrocious human rights record, some golfers turned down massive paydays (aka up to nine figures) and stayed loyal to the PGA, while others took the cash and defected to the dark side.
- The divide played out on and off the course over the next year: LIV golfers were suspended from PGA events, and both sides engaged in a war of words (and lawsuits) as they battled to control the future of the game, and its top stars.
The details: Then came the unthinkable: yesterday’s announcement that the bitter rivals would join forces to create a “new, collectively owned, for-profit entity.” As PGA loyalists who learned of the news via Twitter can attest, the actual specifics are still scarce, but Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) will make a new, exclusive investment in the new tour. Absurd.
Lingering questions: What’s in a name? TBD, as it’s still unclear what (if anything) this new golf league will be called. Other unknowns include what the future tournament structure looks like (will golfers play LIV’s 54 holes or the PGA’s 72?) and how previously banned LIV members will regain PGA Tour status for 2024.
- And then there’s the question of winnings, including if this influx of (corrupt) cash will increase purse sizes, including on the LPGA Tour.
What’s next: While we impatiently wait for Full Swingto drop the behind-the-scenes cut, the competition rolls on. The U.S. Open, the PGA’s third major of the year, tees off next week, and more than a few LIV guys will be on the green. Expect fireworks.