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It was the announcement that nobody saw coming.
On a seismic day not just for golf but for sport in its entirety, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund bankrolling LIV Golf has merged with the PGA and DP World Tours to create a groundbreaking new commercial entity that will control the men’s professional game.
The extraordinary truce effectively puts an abrupt end to the deep schism that has ripped through golf in the past 12 months.
And details of the merger show the Saudi investment fund pouring money into the entity will completely overhaul male golf at the elite level.
Here’s a full breakdown on Tuesday afternoon’s statement that shook men’s professional golf to its core…
1. End of the civil war
“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.
Keith Pelley, the DP World Tour’s chief executive, hailed a “momentous day” as he reacted to the “landmark agreement to unify the game of golf on a global basis.”
The raging civil war that was divided by broken relationships, moral conflict and inordinate wealth appears to be over.
Of course, not all will be instantly forgotten and the players left blindsided by this sensational news have been left reeling.
But the stark statement confirmed that all the complex legal battles have been stopped in a bid to move golf forward as one entire for-profit enterprise.
2. LIV rebels welcomed back
So much of the frustration that came with the emergence of LIV Golf concerned players showing perceived disloyalty towards the traditional tours and jumping ship for a lucrative sums on an enterprise funded by a Gulf State with a disturbing human rights record.
It appeared there was no way back to the PGA Tour for the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, and their public stance was that they were totally fine with that.
But the move that has brought an end to pending litigation means fields will no longer be diluted and the top players will all be competing on the same tour once again.
The statement continued: “The three organisations will work cooperatively and in good faith to establish a fair and objective process for any players who desire to re-apply for membership with the PGA TOUR or the DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season and for determining fair criteria and terms of re-admission, consistent with each Tour’s policies.”
Whether the reintroduction of LIV players onto a main circuit will come at a price remains to be seen.
3. PIF is the exclusive investor
The alacrity of the resolution for the divide in golf made by seemingly just a handful of the game’s top brass has been remarkable.
There is, unsurprisingly then, a good deal of ambiguity in a lengthy statement that has allowed all factions to have their say.
But read between the lines and it will soon become clear that the Saudi public investment fund is now set to control the highest echelons of golf.
“PIF will initially be the exclusive investor in the new entity, alongside the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and the DP World Tour,” the statement reads.
“Going forward, PIF will have the exclusive right to further invest in the new entity, including the right of first refusal on any capital that may be invested in the new entity, including the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and the DP World Tour.”
The PGA Tour will appoint a majority of the Board, but the direction the entity takes will soon be financed exclusively by the Saudi investment fund.
4. Yasir Al-Rumayyan is now golf’s most powerful man
Al-Rumayyan, who is also the non-executive chairman at Newcastle United, can now be considered the most powerful man in golf.
He will also chair the new entity that is set to shape the future of men’s professional golf, while Monahan, who had been in such strong opposition to the rival LIV circuit, will be the new chief executive.
“We are proud to partner with the PGA TOUR to leverage PIF’s unparalleled success and track record of unlocking value and bringing innovation and global best practices to business and sectors worldwide,” Al-Rumayyan said. “We are committed to unifying, promoting and growing the game of golf around the world and offering the highest-quality product to the many millions of long-time fans globally, while cultivating new fans.”
5. Where is Greg Norman?
Those still in shock from the details that emerged from Tuesday’s statement may have forgotten about a name who was strikingly left off it.
Greg Norman, the LIV CEO fronting Saudi Arabia’s launch into golf, was conspicuous by his absence on the release.
The Australian, who has been so bullish in his bid to transform golf, does not feature at all, which poses huge questions over his future.
Rory McIlroy told Norman to “exit stage left” in November so a peace settlement could be negotiated, and it appears the LIV firebrand’s time in the spotlight could be over.
And remarkably, it appears Norman had no prior knowledge of the bombshell news whatsoever.
PIF governor Al-Rumayyan – the chairman of the entity, told CNBC that Norman was told of the deal on a call just moments before the announcement made worldwide news.
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