Fierce Rivals PGA Tour, LIV Golf Agree to Merger

The most traditional purveyor of golf and the upstart that hoped to take away its business have agreed to merge,

In a stunning development. the PGA Tour agreed to combine its commercial and business rights with the golf-related operations of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which includes the upstart league LIV Golf as well as Europe’s DP World Tour. The two sides had been locked in litigation for months.

“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” said Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour Commissioner. “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.”

LIV tried to disrupt the American professional-golf game last year, wooing top players such as Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, with eye-popping contracts and outsize tournament prizes. In January, Nexstar Media’s CW broadcast network struck a multi-year rights deal to air 14 global LIV Golf League live events in 2023 and will stream the events live on its app. Weekend tournaments will air live on Saturdays and Sundays on the linear network, and stream online Fridays. The ratings have not been robust, but the pact put sports on CW for the first time in its history and helps to fill big swaths of time on the network’s weekend schedule.

As a result of the merger, both sides agreed to cease their legal maneuvering against one another. But they also agreed to new safeguards that keeps LIV from trying to poach PGA Tour stalwarts. The deal said to prohibit the recruitment of PGA Tour or LIV Golf members by the other entity.

Backers of the new group will name it in the not too distant future. The Saudi fund will make a capital investment, and the group will work to grow the concept of team golf — a distinction featured in LIV Golf play — in the future.

The average fan may not notice much of a difference. PGA Tour will remain in place as an organization and retain administrative oversight of events for those assets it contributes to the new entity. Monahan will continue as Commissioner. The DP World Tour and LIV Golf will retain similar administrative oversight of events on their respective tours. Public Investment Fund’s Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will join the PGA Tour Policy Board.

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