Players react to shocking PGA Tour merger with LIV Golf
The US-backed PGA Tour has ended a two-year-long feud with Saudi Arabia’s LIV Golf in a shocking partnership that has raised criticism among players, commentators, and fans.
On Tuesday, PGA announced the collaboration, describing it as an effort to end any standing litigations between the two parties and bring unity to the game of golf. The decision meant a large payout from LIV to jumpstart the new entity.
“The parties have signed an agreement that 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,” the statement read.
PGA vs. LIV
The PGA Tour, founded in 1929, stood for decades as one of the largest golf organizations in the world. The tour is known for hosting frequent tournaments—almost every weekend in the US and North America—and attracting the top golfers in the country with its reputation and traditional game style.
Conversely, LIV Golf emerged in 2021, offering a more innovative approach to golf. LIV tournaments were more lax with loud music, looser dress codes, and shorter tournaments. Most appealing, though, were their larger prize pots and lucrative signing-on fees that brought players away from PGA. It doesn’t help that the LIV Golf CEO is Greg Norman, a former PGA Tour player with a strong pull over his fellow players to join over.
Relations between the two companies started on a bad foot almost immediately. Players were forced to choose between LIV and PGA under the threat of fines and suspensions, as players couldn’t be a part of both organizations at the same time. This resulted in numerous lawsuits and countersuits—litigation that ended with the announcement on Tuesday.
“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan in the announcement.
Similarly, Norman tweeted his excitement.
“A great day in global golf for players and fans alike. The journey continues!” The tweet read.
Yet, the sudden switch in behavior leaves many feeling betrayed, especially players who stood loyal to PGA amidst LIV’s emergence, and who are finding out about the partnership at the same time as the public.
“I love finding out morning news on Twitter,” tweeted golfer Collin Morikawa.
I love finding out morning news on Twitter
— Collin Morikawa (@collin_morikawa) June 6, 2023
“Spoke with several @PGATOUR players who were a part of a meeting in Delaware that ultimately reshaped the Tour schedule. Most of those players were offered @livgolf_league money but turned it down to be loyal to the Tour. Those players told me they feel betrayed and manipulated,” tweeted NBC Golf reporter Todd Lewis.
Spoke with several @PGATOUR players who were a part of a meeting in Delaware that ultimately reshaped the Tour schedule. Most of those players were offered @livgolf_league money but turned it down to be loyal to the Tour. Those players told me they feel betrayed and manipulated.
— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) June 6, 2023
Following the statement, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan defended the decision to reporters at the Canada Open in Toronto.
“I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite. Anytime I said anything, I said it with the information that I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that’s trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players,” said Monahan in response to being asked what changed his mind on PGA accepting money from Saudi Arabia.
However, players and PGA members like Dylan Wu were unconvinced.
“Tell me why Jay Monahan basically got a promotion to CEO of all golf in the world by going back on everything he said the past 2 years. The hypocrisy. Wish golf worked like that. I guess money always wins @PGATour,” Wu tweeted.
Tell me why Jay Monahan basically got a promotion to CEO of all golf in the world by going back on everything he said the past 2 years. The hypocrisy. Wish golf worked like that. I guess money always wins @PGATOUR
— Dylan Wu (@dylan_wu59) June 6, 2023
While details about the agreement are still vague, it seems that money and competition finally caught up to PGA. The Public Investment Fund plans to invest billions into the new project, according to its governor al-Rumayyan—perhaps PGA would rather be on board than be left behind.
More information about the new entity is yet to be released, but time will tell the success of this next stage and the further involvement—or dis-involvement—of players.