By Doug Ferguson
The most disruptive year in golf ended Tuesday when the PGA Tour and European tour agreed to a merger with Saudi Arabia's golf interests, creating a commercial operation designed to unify professional golf around the world.
As part of the deal, the sides are dropping all lawsuits involving LIV Golf against each other effective immediately.
Still to be determined is how players like Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who defected to Saudi-funded LIV Golf for nine-figure bonuses, can rejoin the PGA Tour after this year.
Dustin Johnson, left, and Brooks Koepka talk on the fairway of the 18th hole during the first round of the Bedminster Invitational LIV Golf tournament in Bedminster, N.J., Friday, July 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Also unclear was what form the LIV Golf League would take in 2024. Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo to players that a thorough evaluation would determine how to integrate team golf into the game.
The agreement combines the Public Investment Fund's golf-related commercial businesses and rights — including LIV Golf — with those of the PGA and European tours. The new entity has not been named.
“They were going down their path, we were going down ours, and after a lot of introspection you realize all this tension in the game is not a good thing,” Monahan said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.
“We have a responsibility to our tour and to the game, and we felt like the time was right to have that conversation.”
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, will join the board of the PGA Tour, which continues to operates its tournaments. Al-Rumayyan will be chairman of the new commercial group, with Monahan as the CEO and the PGA Tour having a majority stake in the new venture.
The PIF will invest in the commercial venture.
Monahan said the decision came together over the last seven weeks.