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LIV Golf brokers peace deal with global rivals

South Africa's Charl Schwartzel of the Stinger team celebrates with the trophy after winning the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Reuters
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel of the Stinger team celebrates with the trophy after winning the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational
  • Saudi-led series reaches agreement with PGA Tour and DP World Tour
  • Litigation ends and LIV players can reapply to rival tours
  • LIV lured big stars including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson

A peace deal brokered between the breakaway Saudi-led LIV Golf series and its global rivals has been hailed as a “historic” move, after months of bitter legal challenges over the future of the sport.

In a shock announcement on Tuesday, it was announced the Saudi series had reached an agreement with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour to create a unified global entity.

Now approaching its second season, the $225 million LIV series, which is 90 percent owned by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, upended the sport with its launch in June 2022.

Based on 54-hole events instead of the traditional 72-hold format, with no cuts, LIV Golf lured many of the game’s greatest players with a reduced calendar of events, team format and big prize pots.

Hall of Fame golfer and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson led the charge and was joined by former world number one Dustin Johnson.

Reigning PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka also joined, as did 2022 British Open winner Cameron Smith and European Ryder Cup veterans Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter.

The first LIV Golf event boasted $25 million in prize money, including $4 million for American Johnson who claimed the inaugural title.

The rebel competition caused a bitter fight within the sport as LIV players were forced to surrender memberships of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – amid increasing threats of legal action from both sides.

But that has all changed this week.

Peace deal between bitter rivals

“Today is an exciting day for this game and the people it touches around the world,” said PIF governor Yasir Al Rumayyan.

“We’re 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.”

According to a statement from the PGA Tour, all litigation has now ended and LIV players will be offered the opportunity to reapply for their memberships of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.

“After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day,” said PGA tour commissioner Jay Monahan, previously one of the fiercest critics of LIV Golf.

“How did we go from a confrontation to now being partners? We just realised that we were better off together than we were fighting or apart,” he said, describing a meeting with Tour golfers to discuss the deal as “intense”.

Reacting to the deal, Mickelson wrote on Twitter: “Awesome day today.”

LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman tweeted: “A great day in global golf for players and fans alike. The journey continues!”.

Former US President Donald Trump, who owns three courses that are part of the LIV Golf schedule in 2023, celebrated the deal on social media.

“A big, beautiful, and glamorous deal for the wonderful world of golf. Congrats to all!” he said in a post on the Truth Social platform.

Under the agreement the PIF will make a capital investment and be the sole investor in the new entity.

Financial details were not revealed and the name of the new body is to be confirmed.

The board of directors of the new commercial entity will include Al-Rumayyan as chairman and Monahan as CEO.

According to a statement the PGA Tour will appoint a majority of the board and hold a majority voting interest in the combined entity.

“This partnership represents the best opportunity to extend and increase the impact of golf for all,” Al Rumayyan said.

Simon Chadwick, professor of sport and geopolitical economy at Skema Business School in Paris, said the announcement was a “stunning development” but also to be expected as neither the PIF nor the PGA will have been looking forward to a court battle, as it would have exposed both to a level of scrutiny neither wanted.

“It is something of a marriage of convenience: one party with no legitimacy but lots of money, the other with plenty of legitimacy but considerably less money,” Chadwick said.

“In essence, Saudi Arabia has just acquired itself legitimacy, whilst the PGA and DP Tour have just secured their financial futures.

“However, this has been a deeply fractious, scarring episode that will take some time to heal, not least amongst those players who remained steadfast in their opposition to LIV Golf.”