Money Talks, PGA Tour Walks Into Merger With LIV Golf

The PGA Tour has agreed to merge its professional golfers’ tour with Saudi-backed LIV Golf. The agreement marks the end of a two-year battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf that attracted some of the world’s top pros, including new PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka, with lucrative deals that are rumored to have reached nine digits. (These are the worst blunders in sports history.)

LIV Golf is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), and its nearly bottomless well of black gold. LIV sued the PGA for monopolistic behavior last year. The PGA countersued, claiming that LIV illegally enticed players to break their contracts with the older tour by throwing money at the PGA Tour pros. The suits were tentatively set to go to trial next year.

The agreement, which is basically a framework with few details, still has to be approved by the PGA Tour’s policy board. Then the details have to be pounded out. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan commented in a memo to players reviewed by CNBC:

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.

The New York Times reported that Monahan will become the commissioner of the yet-to-be-named tour and that Yasir al-Rumayyan, PIF’s governor, will become its chair. The PGA Tour’s European offspring, the DP Tour, is included in the agreement.

The PIF is reportedly ready to commit billions of dollars to the new tour entity. Al-Rumayyan told CNBC’s David Faber Tuesday morning, “Whatever it takes that’s … what we’re committed for.”

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