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PGA Tour Merging with Saudi-Backed LIV Golf, Ending Rivalry

PGA Tour Merging with Saudi-Backed LIV Golf, Ending Rivalry

The PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabia-backed upstart LIV Golf unexpectedly announced they are merging into a new, for-profit entity in a deal that also includes DP World Tour, the professional tour in Europe. They said the deal would end pending litigation.

  • The deal combines Saudi money with the PGA Tour’s name, connections, and business rights to create potential for future investments, at a time when the Tour and other golf entities are being investigated by the Justice Department for potential antitrust violations, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • LIV, the motto of which is “golf but louder,” paid huge sums to poach PGA stars such as Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka. The Kingdom’s entry into golf raised questions about the Saudis using the sport’s popularity to draw attention away from its human rights record, the Journal said.
  • Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, will chair the new unnamed entity; PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will be CEO; and the Tour will hold a majority voting interest. Mickelson, LIV, and PGA didn’t immediately respond to Barron’s requests for comment.
  • The merger is also expected to benefit equipment, apparel, and driving-range operators. Topgolf Callaway Brands stock, which Barron’s wrote about last month, rose 5.5% on Tuesday. Shares of Acushnet, which owns the Titleist brand, climbed 4.5%.

What’s Next: The 2023 LIV Golf schedule will continue as planned, according to a memo Monahan sent to employees and seen by the Journal. Monahan and Al-Rumayyan told CNBC they are confident they could work out remaining details in coming weeks.

Janet H. Cho and Al Root