PGA and DP World Tours to merge with LIV Golf

The PGA and DP World Tours will merge with the Saudi-backed circuit LIV Golf from the start of next season in a huge shake-up of professional golf.

The merger will end the acrimonious split in the sport following the formation of LIV Golf and bring to an end the ongoing litigation between LIV, the PGA and DP World Tours.

It also means LIV Golf American players including Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Open champion Cameron Smith, and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka now have a route back to golf’s traditional tournaments and the Ryder Cup from next season.

As do their European counterparts including Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson, who was selected as captain of the Ryder Cup European team but was sacked when he joined LIV and replaced by Luke Donald.

An agreement has now been signed that will combine the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV’s commercial operations and rights into a brand new company which has yet to be named.

LIV Golf is backed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF). That fund is controlled by the Saudi crown prince and it will make a capital investment into the new entity to help its growth.

A statement read: “The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund today announced a landmark agreement to unify the game of golf, on a global basis. The parties have signed an agreement that combines PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf) with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.

“The new entity will implement a plan to grow these combined commercial businesses, drive greater fan engagement and accelerate growth initiatives already underway. With LIV Golf in the midst of its second, groundbreaking season, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF will work together to best feature and grow team golf going forward.”

The emergence of LIV Golf has caused a fracture in men’s professional golf over the last year. The Saudi-backed circuit received plenty of criticism, most notably from Rory McIlroy, after several big name players were lured to the new venture by huge prize funds and no-cut events.

LIV Golf has also over the last year become embroiled in anti-trust lawsuits with the PGA Tour, and in April the DP World Tour won its legal battle against 12 LIV players who committed breaches of the Tour’s code of behaviour by playing in LIV Golf events without its permission.

The fines and suspensions led Westwood, Garcia, Poulter and Stenson to resign their Tour memberships making them ineligible for this year’s Ryder Cup, which will take place from 29 September to 1 October in Rome.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said: “This transformational partnership recognises the immeasurable strength of the PGA Tour’s history, legacy and pro-competitive model and combines with it the DP World Tour and LIV – including the team golf concept – to create an organisation that will benefit golf’s players, commercial and charitable partners and fans.”

It remains to be seen what role, if any, LIV commissioner and chief executive Greg Norman will have in the new merged venture.

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