PGA Tour and LIV Golf merger: All the big questions – answered and unanswered – as players are left in the dark by the sport’s shock ‘unification’
- The PGA Tour is sensationally merging with its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf
- The new merger will end the ongoing litigation between the two bitter rivals
- The ‘collectively owned entity’ will ‘unify the game of golf, on a global basis’
News broke earlier today that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are merging with Saudi-backed LIV Golf to form ‘a new collectively owned’ entity.
In a shocking move, the PGA and European Tours have signed an agreement with LIV Golf that would combine their commercial business into a new company.
The merger will end the ongoing litigation between the two bitter rivals and ‘unify the game of golf, on a global basis’.
As a result, Mail Sport have decided to unpick the pressing questions on everyone’s mind following the announcement.
News broke earlier today that the PGA Tour and DP World Tour are merging with Saudi-backed LIV Golf to form ‘a new collectively owned’ entity (filed photo used)
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote a memo to players on Tuesday (pictured)
Why have they decided to merge and form ‘a new collectively owned’ entity?
The PGA Tour and LIV are merging to create a new organisation that will benefit those involved in the sport – including everyone from the players, to the fans, to the charitable partners.
In a statement, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: ‘After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love.
‘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.’
A year ago, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan rejected the idea of merging with LIV Golf
What will the merger mean for ongoing litigation between the entities?
The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf announced they will mutually end all pending litigation between the entities.
The statement read: ‘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.
‘We are pleased to move forward, in step with LIV and PIF’s world-class investing experience, and I applaud PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan for his vision and collaborative and forward-thinking approach that is not just a solution to the rift in our game, but also a commitment to taking it to new heights. This will engender a new era in global golf, for the better.’
Can players who were banned by the PGA Tour compete in this new collectively owned entity?
Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were among players who were suspended from competing on the PGA Tour in 2022 after taking part in the Saudi-funded LIV International Golf Series.
Despite the PGA Tour banning LIV players from competing in their events, the Augusta National Golf Club confirmed back in December that certain players would be allowed to tee off at the Masters.
So where does everyone stand now? Well, the statement released earlier today said that they would come up with 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 full statement read: ‘The three organizations will work cooperatively and in good faith 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 and for determining fair criteria and terms of re-admission, consistent with each Tour’s policies.’
A statement released today said that they would come up with a ‘fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA TOUR or the DP World Tour
What is LIV golf and why were people against the breakaway Saudi-backed series?
LIV Golf is heavily funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund, which has committed at least $2billion to the circuit. But while the rebel tour has attracted media attention in the form of news articles, that publicity had yet to translate to any major media rights or sponsorship deals.
Currently LIV Golf events can be seen on CW and YouTube, although Nielsen ratings have been disappointing to say the least. LIV Golf is no longer reporting viewer data after claiming that Nielsen’s audience measurements are inaccurate.
There are some major names involved with LIV Golf, including major winners such as Koepka, Johnson, Cameron Smith and Bryson DeChambeau, who were lured with lucrative signing bonuses reportedly worth as much as $100million to $200m. Phil Mickelson was paid a reported $200m to defect to LIV Golf.
However, critics say LIV Golf is simply ‘sportswashing’ Saudi Arabia’s brutal human rights record. Therefore, there has been an immense amount of scrutiny around the series.
LIV Golf is heavily funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign-wealth fund, which has committed at least $2 billion to the circuit
What is the difference between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-funded LIV International Golf Series?
Well, the first difference is the number of holes played. Strokeplay events on the PGA Tour are contested over four rounds – which is 72 holes. While LIV events are contested over just 54 holes.
LIV events also differ because they have no cut. Whereas PGA Tour events tend to feature a cut after 36 holes. Typically, players with the top-65 scores (plus ties) make the 36-hole cut and compete in the final two rounds.
However, There are no cuts in the three FedEx Cup playoff events on the PGA Tour (FedEx St. Jude Championship, the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship.)
LIV also has a smaller field of players. Just 48 players feature in the Saudi-backed events. While the PGA Tour features 132, 144 or 156 players depending on the tournament.
The LIV series also features a shotgun start. This means all participants start at the time same time, but on different holes. Therefore, LIV is completed at a much faster rate than the PGA Tour.
There are several differences between the Saudi-backed series and the PGA Tour
How many events will there be in the ‘new collectively owned’ entity and how will it impact World Rankings?
LIV Golf scheduled 14 events for the 2023 season. Whereas the PGA Tour featured 47 events – including The Majors and the World Golf Championships. Those events are the most important in the schedule as they carry the most World Ranking Points.
As it stands, members of the PGA can accrue points from each tournament they participate in. The more points they claim, the more likely they are to feature in the showpiece events such as the Major Championships. However, the LIV Golf series currently carries no World Ranking points.
It remains to be seen as how the ‘new collectively owned’ entity will affect World Ranking points.
Who has supported the merger following the announcement?
Phil Mickelson simply tweeted out, ‘Awesome day today’ as the news began to trickle in. Brooks Koepka decided to stick it to one of his biggest critics, Brandel Chamblee, asking for a ‘welfare check’ on the Golf Channel analyst.
Donald Trump, whose golf courses have hosted several LIV events, backed the news on his social media network: ‘GREAT NEWS FROM LIV GOLF. A BIG BEAUTIFUL, AND GLAMOROUS DEAL FOR THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF GOLF. GONGRATS TO ALL!!!’
Trump has been highly critical of the PGA in recent years after that tour relocated its 2022 championship away from his course in New Jersey amid uproar over the infamous January 6 ‘Stop the Steal’ rally.
Meanwhile PGA player Collin Morikawa wrote on social media: ‘I love finding out morning news on Twitter’ before adding, ‘And everyone thought yesterday was the longest day in golf.’
Phil Mickelson simply tweeted out, ‘Awesome day today’ as the news began to trickle in
Former President Donald Trump, left, talks with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, center, and Majed Al-Sorour, CEO of Golf Saudi on July 29, 2022
How will the new entity work financially?
The statement released earlier today said that PIF (Public Investment Fund) will make a financial investment to become a premier corporate sponsor of the PGA TOUR (and DP World Tour and other international tours).
The statement also said that PIF would make an additional investment in the new entity that will allow them ‘to build an even stronger and more robust commercial business, together.’
Their statement read: ‘The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is contributing its golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf), along with a significant financial investment, toward minority equity ownership of a new, collectively held, for-profit LLC. This new entity (name TBD) will also include the PGA TOUR’s commercial businesses and rights, as well as those of the DP World Tour.
‘PGA TOUR Inc. will remain in place as a 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization and retains administrative oversight of the PGA TOUR, including the sanctioning of events, the administration of the competition and rules, as well as all other “inside the ropes” responsibilities; I remain as Commissioner of the PGA TOUR and Ed Herlihy as PGA TOUR Policy Board Chairman. PIF’s Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan will join the PGA TOUR Policy Board.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan says it will take time for them to work out the specifics
‘Upon execution of a definitive agreement, the Board of Directors – which will oversee and direct all the new entity’s golf-related commercial operations, businesses and investments – will include Al-Rumayyan as Chairman and me as Chief Executive Officer; the two of us will also be a part of the new entity’s Executive Committee along with Ed Herlihy and PGA TOUR Policy Board member Jimmy Dunne. The PGA TOUR will appoint a majority of the Board and hold a majority voting interest in the combined entity.
‘There are many details to work through as we develop a definitive agreement, which will ultimately require PGA TOUR Policy Board approval, and I know you have many questions.
‘There is much work to do to get us from a framework agreement to a definitive agreement, but one thing is obvious: through this transformational agreement and with PIF’s collaborative investment, the immeasurable strength of the PGA TOUR’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model not only remains intact, but is supercharged for the future. Our game, our players and our fans will no doubt benefit for years to come.
‘I will be on site at the RBC Canadian open later today and would like to invite those in the field to a Player Meeting at 4 p.m. to help answer any questions you may have.
‘Sincerely, Jay Monahan’.
How much will the Saudi’s pay towards the new entity and will the LIV players take a cut?
The specific details surrounding the merger and the Saudi’s involved has not yet been confirmed.
What happens to the sign on fee the LIV players received? Will PGA players receive a similar amount?
The breakaway, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, lured some of the sport’s biggest names away with lucrative offers, giant signing fees and massive prize funds.
However, there was a clause in contracts that said that players would be penalised with an exit clause of either two, three or four times their signing bonus if they wish to depart before the deal ends following the 2025 season.
Therefore, it remains to be seen as to what will happen with their signing fees when the entities merge. They will also make a decision over whether the players from the PGA are handed a similar bonus to level the playing fields.
Source: Read Full Article