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The PGA Tour Has Suddenly Merged With LIV Golf

2:02 PM EDT on June 6, 2023

A scoreboard at the LIV Golf event at Broken Arrow, Oklahoma on May 13.
Ian Maule/Getty Images

Well, well, well. After everything—failed political charm offensives and successful buying sprees and lawsuits and counter-lawsuits and much aesthetic uncanniness—the PGA Tour abruptly and officially announced Tuesday plans to merge with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf. This surprise announcement follows a year of litigation between the two entities after LIV filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last summer. In a statement announcing the merger, the PGA Tour stated that the two sides have agreed to end “all pending litigation between the participating parties.”

LIV Golf and the PGA's tumultuous relationship has been filled with all sorts of drama and conflict, beginning with LIV signing away some of the PGA Tour's biggest names, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Dustin Johnson. The PGA Tour responded by banning players who signed up for LIV, though it didn't keep them from participating in the major tourneys. And as LIV went out of its way to differentiate itself from the PGA, its various quirks and proprietary addendums kept players from earning ranking points by Official World Golf Rankings.

LIV Golf is funded solely by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, and the PGA Tour said in its announcement that the agreement would merge LIV and all associated golf businesses with the other tours, including the European DP World Tour, to create one new, for-profit organization. For all his previously professed concerns about getting into bed with the Saudi government and its long track history of human rights abuses, not least of which was the 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, PGA tour commissioner Jay Monahan didn't sound too worried about it in the announcement:

“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love. This transformational partnership recognizes 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 organization that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners, and fans. 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. We are pleased to move forward, in step with LIV and PIF’s world-class investing experience, and I applaud PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan for his vision and collaborative and forward-thinking approach that is not just a solution to the rift in our game, but also a commitment to taking it to new heights. This will engender a new era in global golf, for the better.”

Nothing left to see here! Today is actually a great day for peace, when you think about it. The long nightmare of media members asking golfers uncomfortable questions about getting in bed with corrupt foreign states in exchange for a big paycheck is finally over. Mickelson could be seen celebrating the merger on Twitter, along with Brooks Koepka, who tweeted out "welfare check on Chamblee"—a reference to Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, who had criticized anyone making a deal with LIV as making a "deal with a murderous dictator." The joke, I guess, being that Chamblee is now the one in a compromised position after this deal.

A few days ago, ESPN made note of how one of the PGA's biggest advocates against LIV, Rory Mcllroy, had suddenly gone silent on the topic. Response from players who stayed on the PGA Tour is still coming in, but some seemed blindsided by the news.

What this marriage means for the future of golf is hard to say. The lawsuits and mudslinging are over, at least, and some already-rich people can move into a bigger house now, and that always seemed to be the main thing for everyone involved. If that Saudi money is good enough for our pop stars, it's certainly good enough for our golfers.

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