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PGA and PIF break down surprise deal to merge with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf

The PGA Tour agreed to merge with rival LIV Golf, which is backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.


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The proposed merger comes after the PGA Tour and LIV Golf have been embroiled in lawsuits regarding antitrust claims. The deal would end all pending litigation.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan acknowledged he would be called a hypocrite and said he accepts the criticism.

PGA Tour agrees to merge with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf

The PGA Tour has agreed to merge with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf in a deal that would see the competitors squash pending litigation and move forward as a larger golf enterprise.

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However, the two entities signed an agreement that would combine the PGA Tour’s and LIV Golf’s commercial businesses and rights into a new, yet-to-be-named for-profit company.

Astonishingly, the agreement includes DP World Tour, also known as the PGA European Tour.

“This is exciting day to unify and grow the game of golf,” Nexstar said in the statement. “We look forward to broadcasting seven more exciting tournaments this year featuring the world’s best golfers.”

LIV Golf is backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, an entity controlled by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has been embroiled in antitrust lawsuits with the PGA Tour in the last year. The deal would end all pending litigation.

PIF is prepared to invest billions of new capital into the new entity, CNBC’s David Faber reported as terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The agreement is the second stunning sports deal in just months, following World Wrestling Entertainment’s merger with Endeavor Group.

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In addition, UFC will require the approval of the PGA Tour policy board, Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo to players that was obtained by CNBC.

“There is much work to do to get us from a framework agreement to a definitive agreement, but one thing is obvious: through this transformational agreement and with PIF’s collaborative investment, the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model not only remains intact, but is supercharged for the future,” he wrote in the memo. Deal talks started about seven weeks ago, he said later Tuesday.

Monahan also acknowledged the shock and anger triggered by the deal’s announcement, saying a meeting with PGA Tour players was “intense” and “heated.”

The growing controversy between PGA – LIV golf

LIV Golf, which launched in 2022 and has been spending top dollar to lure golfers, has also been the subject of controversy, criticism and political intrigue in the U.S. PIF has reportedly invested $2 billion into LIV already, and had aspirations of creating franchises and teams that could one day be sold.

Critics of LIV have also accused PIF of “sportswashing” by using the league to distract from the kingdom’s history of human rights violations.

Family members of those who perished in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have protested the league, including outside of events.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on Sept. 11 were from Saudi Arabia, and Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks, was born in the country.

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It has been concluded by U.S. officials that Saudi nationals helped fund the terrorist group al-Qaeda, although investigations didn’t find that the Saudi officials were complicit in the attacks.

The group 9/11 Families United said they were “shocked and deeply offended” by the merger in a statement on Tuesday.

“Mr. Monahan talked last summer about knowing people who lost loved ones on 9/11, then wondered aloud on national television whether LIV Golfers ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour. They do now – as does he,” said 9/11 Families United Chair Terry Strada, whose husband Tom died in the World Trade Center’s North Tower. “PGA Tour leaders should be ashamed of their hypocrisy and greed. Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money – it was never to honor the great game of golf.”

However, the statement referred to when Monahan said during an interview with CBS Sports that he had discussed these controversies with tour players.

“I think you’d have to be living under a rock not to know there are significant implications,” Monahan said during the interview. “I would ask any player who has left or any player who would consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA tour?’”

Monahan on Tuesday said he expected to be called a hypocrite and that he accepts the criticism.

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Former President Donald Trump, who has hosted a number of LIV Golf events at his golf courses, has defended those events, falsely claiming that “nobody’s gotten to the bottom of 9/11.”

Last year, Trump also said on Truth Social that a merger between LIV and The PGA Tour was inevitable.

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Trump weighed in on the merger on his Truth Social platform: “Great news from LIV Golf. A big, beautiful, and glamorous deal for the wonderful world of golf. Congrats to all!”


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