PGA Head Admits Mistakes In LIV Golf Deal Rollout—But Calls Merger With Saudi-Backed Tour ‘The Right Move’

PGA Head Admits Mistakes In LIV Golf Deal Rollout—But Calls Merger With Saudi-Backed Tour ‘The Right Move’

Topline

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan admitted Wednesday that mistakes were made during the lead-up to the golf tour’s sudden and controversial merger with Saudi-backed LIV Golf in June, but ultimately argued “it was the right move,” according to multiple news outlets.

Monahan gave his first public remarks since returning after a medical leave last month. (Photo by … [+] Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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Key Facts

Tangent

The PGA Tour has recently taken steps to alleviate players’ concerns. This month, it agreed to transparency measures that give Player Directors on its policy board authority over changes to the tour, meaning major decisions can’t be made without the approval of a group that includes Tiger Woods, Patrick Cantlay, Charley Hoffman, Peter Malnati, Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson.

Key Background

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf agreed to merge in June, bringing an end to months of court battles between the old tour and the new upstart. LIV, founded in 2021 with support from the Saudi Public Investment Fund, attracted PGA players like Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson with massive deals. LIV Golf joined an antitrust suit levied by several golfers against the PGA Tour, alleging PGA used its power to stifle competition by punishing players who participated in LIV events, and the PGA Tour countersued, accusing LIV and the Saudi Public Investment Fund of interfering with its business by encouraging players to break their contracts. Monahan later said the merger with LIV was a means of taking a “competitor off the board.” The framework agreement will allow the PGA Tour to keep its tax-exempt status. Once a deal is finalized, the tour will become part of a for-profit entity owned by the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and DP World Tour, with the Saudi Public Investment Fund as the entity’s exclusive investor.

Chief Critic

The merger has weathered criticism: In a hearing last month, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said lawmakers hoped to prevent a “brutal, repressive” Saudi-backed regime from gaining control over a “cherished American institution.”

Contra

PGA Tour executive Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dune defended the deal in the Senate hearing. The executives argued litigation between the tour and LIV Golf was a “real threat” and that continuing it would have resulted in LIV becoming the leader of professional golf.

Further Reading

Tiger Woods Joins PGA Tour Policy Board As Monahan Moves To Regain Players’ Trust (Forbes)

PGA Tour Reps Reveal Saudi PIF Plan To Contribute ‘North Of $1 Billion’ To Fund New Golf Entity (Forbes)

PGA Tour And Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Agree To Sudden Merger (Forbes)

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