What does golf’s stunning merger mean for the sport?

What does golf’s stunning merger mean for the sport?

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf have agreed a shock merger to provide a “new era in global golf,” according to PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.

The stunning announcement came after a year of unprecedented disruption in the men’s professional game following the launch of the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what has been announced and what will happen next.

What has been announced?

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), have signed an agreement which 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.

PIF will initially be the exclusive investor in the new entity and have the right of first refusal on any capital to be invested. The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of the board and hold a majority voting interest, with PIF’s governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan the chairman and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan the CEO.

What does this mean going forward?

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan is CEO of the new entity (Seth Wenig/AP)

The deal will lead to a “mutually-agreed” end to all pending litigation between the various organisations. In April, the DP World Tour won its legal battle against 12 LIV players who committed “serious breaches” of the Tour’s code of behaviour by playing in LIV Golf events without permission, but an anti-trust suit against the PGA Tour was ongoing.

In a memo to players, Monahan said the 2023 LIV schedule would continue as planned while a “comprehensive evaluation” of how best to integrate team golf into the professional game takes place.

What about the players?

Lee Westwood, left, and Ian Poulter
Lee Westwood, left, and Ian Poulter are among the players who could return to the DP World Tour (Jane Barlow/PA)

The increased fines and suspensions that the DP World Tour was able to impose after the arbitration verdict prompted Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson to resign their memberships and become ineligible for the Ryder Cup, Stenson standing down as Europe’s captain.

Those players could now return to the fold, with the tours pledging to establish a “fair and objective process” for players to re-apply for membership, although Monahan admits it will be a “complicated endeavour” and it will not be until after the end of this season.

What has the reaction been?

Unsurprisingly Phil Mickelson, who took a break from the game in the wake of his explosive comments about the Saudis and their “horrible record on human rights” before LIV Golf was launched, was in celebratory mood, writing on Twitter: “Awesome day today”. However the news went down less well with some of his fellow professionals, who appeared blindsided by the announcement.

Two-time major winner Collin Morikawa wrote on social media: “I love finding out morning news on Twitter.” Former BMW PGA Championship winner Ben An wrote on Twitter: “I’m guessing the liv teams were struggling to get sponsors and pga tour couldn’t turn down the money. Win-win for both tours but it’s a big lose for who defended the tour for last two years.”