Shock Merger of PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Rocks the Golfing World
Online Sport Editor Ceri Vaughan-Jones discusses the shock merger agreement between rival golf tours.
Following a year of tension, rivalry and uncertainty, there has finally been a decision to unify the game of golf.
In June 2022, LIV Golf was founded as a breakaway from the PGA Tour by two-time major winner Greg Norman, backed financially by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF). This caused major disruption to golf as we previously knew it and many of the world’s best players, such as Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Brooks Koepka, Paul Casey and Sergio Garcia, quit the PGA Tour to join the new, lucrative LIV Golf. However, the massive sums of money on offer provide controversy, given that it is coming from Saudi Arabia. It has been branded as a case of ‘sportswashing’ – the idea of using sports to improve the reputation of a country.
Out of the blue, it was announced on the 6th of June that the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf would merge to form “a new collectively owned” entity.
There are two ways we can look at this. On the one hand, we can call Jay Monahan, the Commissioner of the PGA Tour, hypocritical for accepting this merger after constantly insisting that the players should not accept the PIF’s money. He has also been accused of not properly representing the interests of the players, who were not involved in the process nor informed of its outcome. In fact, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa tweeted “I love finding out morning news on Twitter.”
Good for golf.
On the other hand, could this be the move to finally end the off-the-course disruption and distraction? There has been strong emphasis that the purpose of this deal is to “unify” golf. Rory McIlroy, who has become somewhat of a spokesperson for the PGA Tour players, declared in a press conference that ultimately it may be “good for golf”.
But where does this leave us with Rome’s Ryder Cup looming?
Well, there are two criteria to be a Ryder Cup player – you must be European/American, and you must be a member of the DP World Tour/PGA Tour. Players who quit these tours to join LIV Golf will be allowed to re-apply for membership at the end of the 2023 season but will not be members prior to the Ryder Cup. Therefore, the merger decision does not change much in terms of team selections. However, this may be an outcome that favours the Europeans more than the Americans.
The merger by no means ends golf’s uncertainty but does provide a solution to end the past year’s tension. We are still yet to find out how this new entity will function next year; details will be revealed in due course.