PGA Tour and DP World Tour announce shock merger with LIV Golf

The PGA Tour released a statement on Tuesday confirming the news

Saudi Arabia has in effect taken control of top-level golf after the shock announcement of a multibillion‑dollar investment in which the LIV Golf Series will merge with the PGA and DP World Tours.

The move, confirmed after a month of intense and secret negotiations which began in England, was hailed as “awesome” by LIV’s Phil Mickelson. There will soon be a pathway for LIV golfers to return to the PGA or DP World Tours – and the Ryder Cup. Antitrust lawsuits between LIV and the PGA Tour will be dropped. With one extraordinary statement, hitherto sworn enemies presented a united front. The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) will pour huge sums – confirmed by its governor, Yasir al-Rumuyyan, as running into billions – into a newly formed entity to run top-tier golf. All three tours will exist under that.

The joint statement said: “The parties have signed an agreement that combines PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf) with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.”

LIV’s poaching of players – including Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and the Open champion, Cameron Smith – for tens of millions of dollars from the PGA and DP World Tours throughout 2022 led to those golfers being ostracised from their previous domain. That is about to change. The statement read: “The three organisations will work cooperatively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to reapply for membership with the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season and for determining fair criteria and terms of readmission, consistent with each tour’s policies.”


This opens the door for Ryder Cup reprieves for European golfers who looked to have removed themselves from the biennial joust. However, that situation seems unlikely to be resolved for this year’s event in Rome. It is further complicated by the fact that some of those involved – Sergio García, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter – have recently resigned from the DP World Tour.

Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour’s commissioner, had previously been fierce in his resistance to all things LIV. In emphasising the remarkable scene, he sat alongside Rumayyan in a US television studio as the agreement was set out. “There’s been a lot of tension in our sport over the last couple of years,” Monahan said. “But what we’re talking about today is coming together to unify the game of golf. And to do so under one umbrella.” Monahan addressed players, including Rory McIlroy, on Tuesday afternoon at the Canadian Open. McIlroy, another staunch opponent of LIV, is scheduled to give his thoughts to the media on Wednesday.

Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour’s chief executive, was, like Monahan, upbeat. “I think it’s an unbelievable, momentous day,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for global golf and the men’s professional game. I am just thrilled with the announcement and what it means for the DP World Tour members going forward.”

Pressed on whether this was a victory for Saudi sportswashing, Pelley said: “The challenge that we had is that they were playing outside the ecosystem and outside of the global professional golf infrastructure. Now they are playing inside it. I’m energised by the fact that the PIF and the PGA Tour will both be working closely with the DP World Tour to grow our tour and grow it for our members.”

The American financier Jimmy Dunne, an Augusta National member and a recent addition to the PGA Tour’s policy board, was central to the merger discussions. Monahan and Rumayyan met for lunch and played golf on the outskirts of London to accelerate them. LIV, which is seeking wider exposure in the US, will hope to secure a share of the PGA Tour’s broadcast agreements.

Felix Jakens of Amnesty International said: “It’s been clear for some time that Saudi Arabia was prepared to use vast amounts of money to muscle its way into top-tier golf, just part of a wider effort to become a major sporting power and to try to distract attention from the country’s atrocious human rights record.”

Intriguingly, Greg Norman appears not only to have been excluded from the settlement talks but the LIV commissioner’s name was absent from the press release announcing the deal. The Australian has been a controversial figure in the LIV debate, with Tiger Woods and McIlroy among those to call for him to step away. Rumayyan revealed he only informed Norman of developments immediately before his television interview. Speculation will naturally intensify that Norman’s LIV association is close to coming to an end. – Guardian