MIAMI: The PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced on Tuesday that they have merged their commercial operations with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf and ended all litigation, bringing to a close the sport’s bitter two-year rift.
In a bombshell agreement that caught the golf world by surprise, the US-based PGA Tour said they had signed an agreement that combines its activities with the Saudi financiers’ golf-related businesses and those of the DP World Tour to form “a new collectively owned, for-profit entity.”
“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
“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,” he added.
The name of the new merged entity and the precise structure of the tours has yet to be announced but the PGA Tour said that the parties had agreed to “establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season.”
The Board of Directors of the new commercial entity will have the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as chairman and Monahan as Chief Executive Officer.
“Today is a very exciting day for this special game and the people it touches around the world,” said Al-Rumayyan. “From the very beginning, the whole initiative was how to grow the game of golf,” Al-Rumayyan said. “And I think what was achieved today was exactly that.”
“We are proud to partner with the PGA TOUR to leverage PIF’s unparallelled success and track record of unlocking value and bringing innovation and global best practices to business and sectors worldwide.
“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,” he said.
Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the DP World Tour, said: “This is a momentous day. We are delighted to be able to not only reignite our relationship with PIF, but also to have the opportunity to build on our current Strategic Alliance partnership with the PGA TOUR. Together we will be stronger than ever and well positioned to continue to bring the game to all corners of the globe.”
He continued: “To partner in this new entity and influence the growth of the game for all our DP World Tour members is energizing and exciting.”
LIV Golf was launched in October 2021 and lured top PGA Tour talent with record $25 million purses and money guarantees. The competition is currently in its second season.
The PGA Tour responded to the emergence of a rival tour by banning LIV players while the DP World Tour has handed out heavy fines to its players.
The rift had led to a series of lawsuits and caused acrimony between players such as major winners Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, who signed lucrative deals with LIV, and those such as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who remained loyal to the PGA Tour.
There was noticeably no mention of LIV chief executive Greg Norman in the statements. Norman’s combative approach to the conflict had seen him recently snubbed by Augusta National who did not offer him an invite to April’s Masters tournament.
In November, McIlroy, who was the most prominent backer of the PGA Tour among the players, said that Norman was an obstacle to any deal between the two parties.
“I think Greg needs to go. I think he just needs to exit stage left,” said the Northern Irishman, “No one is going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.”
It was unclear if the announcement would impact on LIV’s current season. The tour’s next event is on June 30 at Valderrama in Spain. The PGA Tour statement said that the team element, introduced by LIV, would be part of the future plans.