In one of the most surprising, if not shocking sports stories of the year, the US PGA and DP World Tours have agreed to merge with the LIV Golf Tour.
The merger and cessation of all litigation between the different parties was announced on Tuesday 6th June to the shock and astonishment of many within the golfing community.
It will see all three tours combine their efforts into one single tour, funded solely by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
A new company, which has not yet been named, will be set up following the merger of the three tours to administer the new golfing entity.
The new tour is expected to combine elements of each of the organisation’s own competitive schedule, including keeping the team element that is a key feature of LIV Golf.
It also, presumably, means that players that had been banned from PGA and DP World Tour events, as well as the Ryder Cup, are now free to compete in all of them once again.
It is a stunning, and entirely controversial, announcement into the run up of the forthcoming US Open Golf Major, for which bet365 Sport has Scottie Scheffler as the current favourite to win the event.
However, Scheffler, along with many others that stayed loyal to the PGA and DP World Tours, may now be feeling somewhat betrayed by this shocking turn of events.
And they aren’t the only ones as the ramifications of the agreement, and how it was organised and agreed, slowly start to come into focus.
The Winners And Losers From Tuesday’s Shock Announcement
- LIV Golf Tour
The big winners from yesterday’s announcement is the LIV Golf Tour. Not only do they now become one of the biggest and most important players in the world of golf, but the tour has got exactly what it wanted – for its tour to be fully credible in terms of competition and to allow its players access to all the biggest tournaments in the world.
Additionally, LIV Golf Tour players will now be able to improve their Official World Golf Ranking position, as well as compete in big events, such as The Player’s Championship, FedEx Cup, Race to Dubai, BMW PGA Championship and Ryder Cup, which previously they were unable to do because of the ban.
The merger also puts LIV Golf Tour on an equal footing with the US PGA and DP World Tour and some would say with the Saudi PIF holding the purse strings, LIV may have the top seat at the table.
- LIV Golf Tour Rebels
It may have been an awkward 18 months or so for some, and their ranking may have taken a hit, but those professional golfers that signed up for the LIV Golf Tour have hit the jackpot.
Now they have access to every tournament they had as a former US PGA or DP World Tour member (from the end of the 2023 season), plus any LIV Golf Tournaments and they also received a huge payday for signing up with LIV Golf when they did.
- Ryder & President’s Cup Organisers & Sponsors
The biennial match between Europe and the United States, plus the President’s Cup played between the USA and the Rest of the World in the year’s in between, will receive a big boost now that the LIV golfers can now be part of the event again.
The prospect of a USA team without the likes of Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau or Brooks Koepka, a European team minus Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood or Henrik Stenson, or a Rest of the World team minus Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace or Cameron Smith would have lessened the appeal of these contests immeasurably.
- Loyal US PGA and DP World Tour Players
How can the injection of a huge new sponsor and a revolution in the world of golf, pouring millions more into the sport, be to the detriment of those players that remained loyal to their tour?
Well, Tiger Woods decision to stay with the US PGA has now cost him a reported $500,000,000 as that is what he was reported to have been offered to switch to LIV Golf.
Rory McIlroy, an outspoken supporter of the US PGA and DP World Tour and critic of LIV, would have earned a $200,000,000 signing bonus if he had joined LIV, so reports go.
Now every one of those players will be lining up shortly against the LIV Golf rebels, many of whom now have their own multi-million dollar signing bonuses safely stored away in their offshore Swiss bank accounts.
- The Families of 9/11 Victims
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan famously teamed up with the families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack to condemn Saudi Arabia’s involvement in that attack and their subsequent funding of the LIV Golf Tour.
Back then the commissioner was not interested in the money to be made from LIV Golf, as he had a higher cause to support for the 9/11 victims and their families.
It’s hard to understand how disappointed those 9/11 families will feel now that Monahan has completed a U-turn and now agreed a deal (for a LOT of money) with the organisation he was linking to terrorism not so long ago.
Which brings us neatly onto…
- US PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan
The mouthpiece for the anti-LIV sentiment that pervaded across the US PGA and DP World Tour for the past couple of years, there is no doubt that many in those organisations are going to feel betrayed about the actions of the Commissioner, just as the families’ of 9/11 victims do.
There have already been murmurings of disquiet from some PGA Tour professionals, and it is not a great look for the commissioner to have hopped into bed with his self-anointed enemy, simply because they had a lot more money to throw around.
Especially when your original viewpoint was that the dispute was not about money, but about doing the right thing, not condoning sports-washing and protecting the sanctity of the US PGA Tour.
However, Monahan is not the only tour leader whose reputation is in tatters.
- LIV Golf Tour CEO and Commissioner Greg Norman
The Great White Shark has sunk his teeth into his perceived enemies on the US PGA and DP World Tours over the last few years.
His forthright and at times, combative stance on LIV Golf, and how the current tours needed to change, meant that it seemed any chance of reconciliation was impossible.
Indeed, many players had suggested Norman had to step down from his role before any productive talks could be had between the warring factions.
However, it seems that Norman is now surplus to requirements at LIV Golf as the Australian seemingly had no part in the discussions that preceded yesterday’s announcement.
The deal was brokered, it seems, by the governor of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al-Rumayyan.
The governor admitted in a TV interview that he would be informing Norman of the merger in a phone call just moments before the announcement was made public.
It is extremely unlikely that Norman will have a significant role to play in the new golfing entity that will replace the three tours.
What Does The Future Hold?
There are a lot more unanswered questions about the merger than there are concrete proposals at the moment, Jay Monahan stating that a “framework” for the agreement was in place.
What we do know is the following:
- The US PGA, DP World Tour and LIV Golf Tours will merge into a single organisation.
- That organisation will be funded entirely by the Saudi PIF and its committee will be made up of members of all three tours.
- All litigation between the three tours has been ceased with immediate effect.
- The name for the new tour and its company, has not yet been decided.
- All players that had been banned from PGA Tour and DP World Tour events because of their participation in LIV Golf Tournaments are now free to play in tour events once again from the end of the 2023 season.
- All LIV Golf Tour players will be eligible to earn ranking points and compete in the Ryder Cup/President’s Cup tournaments.
- Going forward the ‘team element’ of LIV Golf will be continued in the new single tour, although how this will be organised with so many more players, remains to be seen.
However, there are a lot of questions that remain unanswered:
- How will the new single tour organise tournaments around the world?
- How will players that turned down massive incentives to join LIV Golf to remain on the DP and US PGA Tours be compensated for their support?
- What type of increase in tournament prize pools will be seen as a result of the merger?
- If we assume that there are 156 players competing in each DP World Tour and US PGA Tour tournament each week, plus 48 LIV Golfers, how will the tour organise things so that these 360 golfers can earn a living?
Like it or not, yesterday’s announcement was a momentous and crucial day in the future of world golf.
Whether it was for the betterment of the game though, remains to be seen.