According to news sources, the PGA Tour ended its expensive fight with Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf venture and now is joining forces with it, making a stunning announcement Tuesday of a merger that creates a commercial operation with the Public Investment Fund and the European tour. As part of the deal, the sides immediately are dropping all lawsuits involving LIV Golf.
From the golf side, still to be determined is how players such as Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who defected to the Saudi-funded LIV Golf for nine-figure bonuses, can rejoin the PGA Tour after this year. From the commercial side, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund joins the PGA Tour board of directors and leads the new business venture as chairman, though the PGA Tour will have a majority stake.
News of the deal came as a surprise to many watchers of the lawsuits and Saudi Arabia’s inroads into US politics, sports and culture.
“This is a huge development and obviously upends a world of golf, which has been perhaps more tradition-bound in the past,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, a Middle East fellow at Houston’s Baker Institute.
Many players were not happy. Wesley Bryan tweeted, “I feel betrayed, and will not … be able to trust anyone within the corporate structure of the PGA Tour for a very long time.”
“The divisiveness is now over, and two years of disruption and distractions … is over and now we can concentrate on building our respective tours,” said Keith Pelley, CEO of the European tour. “And we are building it with PIF, who is clearly committed to the game.”
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