The PGA Tour said it will merge with the Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf, ending a bitter rivalry between the two groups that sparked an antitrust lawsuit as well as accusations of unfair behavior.
The deal will end all litigation between the parties, the organizations said in a Tuesday statement.
The merger comes after LIV Golf poached several high-profile players such as Phil Mickelson with lucrative guaranteed money contracts. That sparked an acrimoniousbetween the two groups, with the PGA Tour saying players who teed off in the LIV league were for PGA Tour events. In response, Mickelson and other golfers filed an last year against the PGA Tour, accusing it of running an illegal monopoly.
"After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in the statement.
The merger will create "a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA TOUR or the DP World Tour" after the 2023 season, the statement added.
LIV Golf has sparked controversy over its backing from Saudi Arabia, with some critics calling the funding "sportswashing," or using financial strings to games and teams to help improve a group or nation's image and standing. It's an allegation that Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's minister of sport,he disagreed with, arguing that the league helped bring people together.
The new group formed by the entity, which hasn't yet been named, will tap board members including the PGA's Monahan, who will be CEO, as well as Saudi Arabia's Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who is the governor of the country's Public Investment Fund.
Which golfers did LIV hold contracts with?
LIV Golf signed contracts with top golfers from around the world. Aside from U.S. player Mickelson, LIV had also signed several other notable American golfers, including:
- Talor Gooch
- Bryson DeChambeau
- Dustin Johnson
- Brooks Koepka
Who owns PGA?
The PGA Tour is a nonprofit, so it doesn't have an owner. On Tuesday, the group said it will remain a tax-exempt organization following the merger.
It noted that Jay Monahan will continue as commissioner and Ed Herlihy will remain as PGA Tour Policy Board chairman after the merger.
Who owns LIV?
Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund is the majority owner of LIV Golf, with a 93% stake, according to Golf.com.
The Public Investment Fund is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, with $620 billion of assets under management.
What are the players saying about the surprise merger?
Most players learned that the PGA and LIV Golf are joining forces by social media, in part because a news outlet leaked the news before PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan could disclose the news.
"I love finding out about morning news on Twitter," two-time major champion Collin Morikawa tweeted.
Some players also expressed consternation about the merger.
Wesley Bryan tweeted, "I feel betrayed, and will not ... be able to trust anyone within the corporate structure of the PGA Tour for a very long time."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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