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PGA announces bombshell merger with LIV Golf, stunning players

World golf’s bitter two-year rift is over after the PGA Tour announced it will merge with Saudi-backed LIV Golf.


The PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced they have merged their commercial operations with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf and ended all litigation, bringing to a close the sport’s bitter two-year rift.

In a bombshell agreement that caught the golf world by surprise, the US-based PGA Tour said they had signed an agreement that combines its activities with the Saudi financiers’ golf-related businesses and those of the DP World Tour to form “a new collectively owned, for-profit entity”.

LIV Golf was launched in October 2021 and lured top PGA Tour talent with record $25 million purses and money guarantees. The competition is currently in its second season.

The PGA Tour responded to the emergence of a rival tour by banning LIV players while the DP World Tour has handed out heavy fines to its players.

The rift had led to a series of lawsuits and caused acrimony between players such as major winners Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, who signed lucrative deals with LIV, and those such as Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who remained loyal to the PGA Tour.

“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.

“This transformational partnership recognises the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV — including the team golf concept — to create an organisation that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners and fans,” he added.

The deal was given swift backing by six-time major winner Mickelson, the most prominent of the defectors to the LIV Tour.

“Awesome day today,” tweeted Mickelson above a link to a news story on the merger.

But PGA Tour players were clearly taken aback by the news taking to social media to express their surprise.

“Nothing like finding out through Twitter that we’re merging with a tour that we said we’d never do that with,” wrote Canadian Mackenzie Hughes.

The name of the new merged entity and the precise structure of the tours has yet to be announced but the PGA Tour said that the parties had agreed to “establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to reapply for membership with the PGA Tour or the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season”.

The Board of Directors of the new commercial entity will have the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as chairman and Monahan as Chief Executive Officer.

There was noticeably no mention of LIV chief executive Greg Norman in the statements. Norman’s combative approach to the conflict had seen him recently snubbed by Augusta National who did not offer him an invite to April’s Masters tournament.

In November, McIlroy, who was the most prominent backer of the PGA Tour among the players, said that Norman was an obstacle to any deal between the two parties.

“I think Greg needs to go. I think he just needs to exit stage left,” said the Northern Irishman.

“No one is going to talk unless there’s an adult in the room that can actually try to mend fences.

It was unclear if the announcement would impact on LIV’s current season. The tour’s next event is on June 30 at Valderrama in Spain. The PGA Tour statement said that the team element, introduced by LIV, would be part of the future plans.

“Today is a very exciting day for this special game and the people it touches around the world,” said Al-Rumayyan.

“We are proud to partner with the PGA Tour to leverage PIF’s unparalleled success and track record of unlocking value and bringing innovation and global best practices to business and sectors worldwide.

“There is no question that the LIV model has been positively transformative for golf.

“We believe there are opportunities for the game to evolve while also maintaining its storied history and tradition. This partnership represents the best opportunity to extend and increase the impact of golf for all.”

LIV Golf: Timeline of a civil war

LIV Golf unveiled details of its inaugural season in March 2022, announcing eight events and a staggering $255 million in prize money.

“I want golf to grow, players to have additional opportunities, and fans to have more fun,” said LIV Golf Investments CEO Greg Norman, a former world number one.

The names of players who had signed up to the 54-hole, no-cut events that feature team and individual competition were not revealed.

The following month six-time major winner Phil Mickelson applied for a release from the US-based PGA Tour that would allow him to play in the first LIV event, to be held in June at the Centurion Club, near London.

At that stage he had not confirmed his participation.

The American had previously described the Saudi financial backers of the proposed league as “scary” with a “horrible record on human rights” but said he was willing to deal with them in order to gain leverage to “reshape” the PGA Tour.

He subsequently apologised for his comments.

Speaking at the Centurion Club in May 2022, Norman batted away concerns over Saudi Arabia’s rights record and the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by saying “we’ve all made mistakes” as he defended the LIV tour.

A US intelligence assessment found that Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “approved” an operation to capture or kill critic and columnist Khashoggi.

Saudi officials deny this and say that his murder and dismemberment in the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in 2018 -- which sparked worldwide outrage -- was a “rogue” operation.

“This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good that the country is doing in changing its culture,” Norman said, in comments that drew criticism.

LIV Golf announced at the beginning of the following month that former world number one Dustin Johnson would head the field for its first $25 million event.

Other major winners Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer were also in the field.

Johnson quit the PGA Tour days later, effectively ruling himself out of the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy.

The two-time major winner was crowned the inaugural LIV Golf individual champion later in the year.

The PGA Tour slapped a ban on 17 players competing in the LIV Golf series just minutes after the first event teed off on June 8.

“These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons,” said commissioner Monahan.

Later in the month the DP World Tour, formerly known as the European Tour, banned and fined its own members.

PGA revamp Monahan announced a sweeping overhaul of the US-based circuit later in June in a move designed to dissuade players from defecting, including a significant boost in prize money.

Former US President Donald Trump urged golfers to “take the money” and sign with the Saudi-backed LIV series in July 2022.

Trump, who hosted LIV events at two of his golf courses last year, said in a post on his Truth Social network that players should not hesitate to abandon the PGA Tour, which he branded “disloyal”.

Stenson loses Ryder Cup captaincy Henrik Stenson was stripped of the captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team in the same month, hours before it was confirmed he had signed up to play on the LIV Golf circuit.

The Swede said he was “hugely disappointed” not to be able to maintain his role as captain for the next Ryder Cup.

Legal fights A group of LIV Golf players filed an anti-trust lawsuit in August against the PGA Tour, with the LIV series joining the action.

It was alleged that the PGA had used a monopoly position to restrict competition and unfairly ban those who left for LIV Golf.

The case was scheduled to be heard in 2024.

In April this year the DP World Tour won a legal battle against a group of rebel golfers who committed “serious breaches” of its code of behaviour by playing in LIV Golf events without permission.




LIV Golf announces new pay-per-view option - 26th May 2023

"The hope for LIV is to grow off the success first seen on YouTube in 2022, where the league attracted tournament audiences of several hundred-thousand views in the U.S. and abroad."

Going forward, LIV Golf Series events will be available via a pay-per-view option on YouTube.

The new deal was detailed by James Colgan of

“Less than six months after signing a media rights agreement with the CW, LIV announced Friday that it has created a new, pay-per-view broadcast option to run on YouTube,” Colgan reported. “The PPV broadcast will cost $3 per tournament day, LIV said in a release announcing the decision, and will run in addition to the league’s agreement with the CW.”

Colgan also detailed that “A LIV source indicated that the CW is aware of the decision to introduce a pay-per-view model, and that the decision does not violate any of the league’s preexisting broadcast agreements.”

“The hope for LIV is to grow off the success first seen on YouTube in 2022, where the league attracted tournament audiences of several hundred-thousand views in the U.S. and abroad. The league already has its own direct-to-consumer subscription platform, LIV Golf Plus, which the PPV channel will run counter to. LIV broadcasts will continue to be streamed for free on the CW app.”

This announcement comes less than two weeks after a rather embarrassing moment for the tour. One week before LIV’s Brooks Koepka triumphed at the PGA Championship, the Saudi-backed golf series was in Tulsa.

On one hand, it was a perfect showcase event for LIV. Two of its most high-profile players, Dustin Johnson and Cam Smith, went to a three-way playoff (along with Branden Grace). But most of the people watching did not get to see Johnson’s eventual triumph.

The CW, the league’s primary broadcast partner, went away from coverage in the vast majority of its markets, showing “regularly scheduled programming.” Jim Nantz was quick to make a joke at LIV’s expense on the matter at the PGA Championship. The CW also announced a change, saying that all events will be shown to their conclusions going forward.





Golf icon Phil Mickelson’s staggering wealth after escaping gambling hell

Golf cult hero Phil Mickelson has revealed a staggering detail about his vast fortune after losing $50 million to a bad habit.


Phil Mickelson says that he has managed to shed one of his vices, and that his net worth is nearing $1 billion (more than $1.5b Australian dollars).

The revelation came amid a Twitter flurry from Mickelson, and this particular thread started with Golf Channel analyst Eamon Lynch writing an op/ed for USA Today’s Golfweek that accused Mickelson of being a “shameless pawn” for the Saudi regime after joining LIV Golf on a deal reportedly worth about $200 million.

Lynch and his fellow Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee have been beating this drum for quite some time, and recently Brooks Koepka’s coach, Claude Harmon III, ripped them for hypocrisy in working for NBC, which aired recent Olympics from Russia and China.

“I was right (again),” Mickelson responded to Lynch’s op/ed, “Eamon comes to Brandel’s defense. You both have an obsession with me (and LIV) that requires professional help. Wishing you both all the best with that.”

A parody account for disgraced former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling interjected, “Speaking of professional help, how is your gambling addiction?”

To this, Mickelson responded, “Haven’t gambled in years. Almost a billionaire now. Thanks for asking.”

Another Twitter user didn’t believe Mickelson, writing, “Gotta call bs here. This means Phil doesn’t play for money on practice rounds and casual rounds. That is gambling.”

Mickelson acknowledged there was an asterisk.

“There is an * then. We cap it at 1k. I would argue that’s creating competition. But certainly you could argue otherwise,” Mickelson tweeted.

Last year, Mickelson opened up about the depths of his gambling problem.

“My gambling got to a point of being reckless and embarrassing. I had to address it. And I’ve been addressing it for a number of years. And for hundreds of hours of therapy. I feel good where I’m at there. My family and I are and have been financially secure for some time,” Mickelson told Sports Illustrated.

“Gambling has been part of my life ever since I can remember. But about a decade ago is when I would say it became reckless. It’s embarrassing. I don’t like that people know.

“The fact is I’ve been dealing with it for some time. Amy has been very supportive of it and with me and the process. We’re at a place after many years where I feel comfortable with where that is. It isn’t a threat to me or my financial security. It was just a number of poor decisions.’’

Mickelson’s biographer Alan Shipnuck claimed that the golfer had lost $40 million in a four-year stretch between 2010 and 2014.