PGA Tour Bends the Knee to LIV and U.S. Senate Enters the Chat
After two years of increasing tension and legal battles, the PGA Tour and LIV Golf have come to an agreement that has fans and top players divided, and has painted a murky future for the game of golf. What was originally reported as a “merger” was a mistake. Testimonies from top PGA Tour officials who were grilled by a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee last week cleared the picture up somewhat: there is no merger–yet. Rather, there’s a “framework agreement” between the two leagues that has ended litigation, but only pledges that the two leagues will work to merge.
The actuality is a far cry from initial reports, and the news of the framework agreement raises more questions than answers. A situation where the PGA Tour seemed to have the upper hand in courts may have flip-flopped—the deep pockets of LIV Golf and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) now hold a lot of leverage, putting the PGA Tour in a precarious position.
There is a lot to process in this potentially tenuous situation. When originally reported as a merger, the news sent shockwaves through the golf community, leaving many wondering about the future implications. If a merger does happen, aside from the substantial financial benefits, the biggest impact is the return of marquee golfers who left the PGA to join LIV Golf. Players who stayed loyal to the PGA, turning down massive amounts of money in the process, will understandably feel a sense of frustration. An under-discussed aspect of the potential merger so far is fan sentiment—with all of the mud-slinging that occurred between the PGA and LIV Golf, are fans going to welcome this retooled version of the PGA with open arms, or will they join in the frustration that many players feel and boycott the league?
On the other hand, what happens if a merger doesn’t occur and the “framework agreement” falls through? LIV Golf holds a sizable advantage over the PGA in terms of capital, and the PGA all but admitted in court last week that they’re worried about the power LIV Golf could wield if the two sides don’t strike a deal. Our thinking? There seems to be too much at stake for either side to walk away from a deal at this point, and in the coming months their work will continue towards a legitimate merger.