The PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the insurgent league bankrolled by billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, said Tuesday that they had agreed to a merger, ending a bitter fight for supremacy of men’s professional golf that had divided top players, everyday fans and corporate sponsors. The governor of the Saudi fund will become chairman of the joined organization.
The announcement was at once stunning — the sides had clashed for months in litigation that will now draw to a close — and an outcome that many in golf had believed was a distinct possibility from the time LIV burst into the sport last year.
In a joint statement on Tuesday with the DP World Tour, which is also covered by the agreement, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which had bankrolled LIV, and the PGA Tour said the former rivals would “implement a plan to grow these combined commercial businesses, drive greater fan engagement and accelerate growth initiatives already underway.”
“Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we’ve always made — to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game’s future,” Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, said in a statement.
Under the terms of the tentative agreement announced on Tuesday, the Public Investment Fund will at first be the exclusive investor in the blended operation, along with the established tours and LIV. Monahan is expected to be the new group’s chief executive, with Yasir al-Rumayyan, the wealth fund’s governor, installed as its chairman.
LIV charged into professional golf last year by luring some of the world’s most prominent players, including Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, with guaranteed contracts sometimes said to be worth $100 million or more and tournament prize funds that were the richest in golf history.
The PGA Tour, long the dominant force in professional golf, retaliated by banning any players who joined the new tour from its events. In sometimes caustic public statements and legal filings, the tour argued that the Saudi-backed league was compromising the sport’s integrity and acting as little more than a front for Saudi ambitions to repair the kingdom’s reputation.
But by midday Tuesday, golf’s era of high-dollar brinkmanship had ended, with promises of “a fair and objective process for any players” looking to return to good standing with the PGA Tour or its European counterpart.