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PGA Tour officials to testify before Senate subcommittee

Blumenthal on probe into PGA-LIV merger
Blumenthal says all tools, including subpoenas and hearings, are on the table in PGA-LIV merger 05:23

Officials for the PGA Tour have agreed to testify next month before a Senate subcommittee which is investigating the organization's controversial plan to join with Saudi-backed LIV Golf.

In a letter Wednesday addressed to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Ron Johnson said that the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations — which is under the banner of the Homeland Security Committee — will hold a public hearing about the planned merger on July 11, and requested that Monahan testify.

In a statement provided to CBS News Wednesday night, the PGA said that "we look forward to appearing" before the subcommittee "to answer their questions about the framework agreement we believe keeps the PGA TOUR as the leader of professional golf's future and benefits our players, our fans, and our sport."

THE PLAYERS Championship - Final Round
Jay Monahan, PGA Commissioner, speaks during the trophy ceremony during the final round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass on March 12, 2023, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. JARED C TILTON / Getty Images

The PGA did not specify who exactly would testify.

The proposed merger earlier this month sent shockwaves across the golf world and sparked major criticism against Monahan for his seeming about-face regarding LIV Golf, which is owned by Saudi Arabia's sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF).  

The plan would see the PGA Tour and PIF create a for-profit golfing league, with the $620 billion wealth fund providing an undisclosed capital investment. Monahan would serve as CEO of the new entity. 

PIF has been accused of what some see as Saudi Arabia's attempt to "sportswash" in an effort to distract from its record on human rights abuses.

The proposed merger also drew heavy criticism from family members of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, who accused the PGA of hypocrisy.

"Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by (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," Terry Strada, chair of 9/11 Families United, said in a statement after the deal was announced.  

Immediately after forming last year, LIV Golf poached several high-profile golfers from the PGA by offering exorbitant upfront signing fees of hundreds of millions of dollars, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Dustin Johnson.   

An acrimonious rivalry ensued, with the PGA at the time announcing that any golfers joining LIV would be banned from playing on the PGA Tour. LIV responded by filing an antitrust lawsuit. 

In their letter, Blumenthal, chair of the subcommittee, and Johnson, it's ranking member, requested that Monahan "be prepared to discuss the circumstances and terms of the planned agreement between PGA Tour and the PIF, how any new entities formed through the planned agreement will be structured, the expected impact on PGA Tour and LIV Golf players, and the anticipated role of the PIF in U.S. professional golf."

Kristopher Brooks contributed to this report. 

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