The PGA Tour and LIV Golf are rivals no more, as the golf entities announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a merger.
In a press release, it was noted that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf will also merge with the DP World Tour, also known as the European Tour, bringing together the three largest golf tours in the world.
Phil Mickelson, who was one of the highest-profile golfers to jump from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, celebrated the news:
As part of the merger, all pending litigation between the tours will be dropped, and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which is the primary backer for LIV Golf, will invest in the new venture, which has yet to be named.
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who had been a vocal critic of LIV Golf, expressed excitement over the merger, saying:
"After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love. This transformational partnership recognizes 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 organization that will benefit golf's players, commercial and charitable partners and fans. Going forward, fans can be confident that we will, collectively, deliver on the promise we've always made – to promote competition of the best in professional golf and that we are committed to securing and driving the game's future.
"We are pleased to move forward, in step with LIV and PIF's world-class investing experience, and I applaud PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan for his vision and collaborative and forward-thinking approach that is not just a solution to the rift in our game, but also a commitment to taking it to new heights. This will engender a new era in global golf, for the better."
Collin Morikawa, a two-time major champion who remained loyal to the PGA Tour amid LIV Golf's poaching of several notable players, seemed taken aback by the announcement:
Dan Rapaport of Barstool Sports reported that Morikawa wasn't alone in how he learned of the merger. The PGA Tour reportedly "didn't communicate this to players at all" ahead of time.
Anonymous players told Rapaport they were "disgusted" and "shocked and confused."
Following the merger announcement, Monahan sent a letter to the PGA golfers explaining the move and setting up a player meeting:
In the letter, Monahan noted that golfers who left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf will be given the opportunity to apply for reinstatement into the PGA Tour.
As part of the announcement, it was noted that the Public Investment Fund will initially be the exclusive investor in the new venture, and the PGA Tour will appoint the majority of the board of directors, with Monahan as CEO and the PIF's Al-Rumayyan as chairman.
Additionally, the PGA Tour, LIV Golf and DP World Tour will continue to have "administrative oversight" over their own tours and events.
Hall of Fame golfer Greg Norman, who has been LIV Golf's CEO and essentially the face of the tour, was notably not mentioned in the press release, per Eric Fisher of Front Office Sports.
LIV Golf was officially created in 2021 and made its debut last year as the chief competitor to the PGA Tour.
Thanks to substantial monetary offers, larger purses, fewer tournaments and shorter tournaments of 54 holes rather than the traditional 72, LIV Golf succeeded in taking a significant amount of talent from the PGA Tour.
It has also faced widespread criticism for "sportswashing"—in this case using the sport to distract from human right violations committed by the Saudi government.
Among the top stars to join LIV over the past couple of years are Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson.
In retaliation, the PGA Tour rescinded the tour cards of players who joined LIV Golf, meaning they could no longer play in PGA Tour events but could compete in majors if they had the necessary qualifications.
Koepka became the first LIV Golf player to win a major when he took the PGA Championship at Oak Hill last month.
For all of LIV Golf's success, it largely struggled to capture the attention of golf fans with its own product, only managing to land a television deal with The CW for the 2023 season after streaming on YouTube and other digital platforms last season.
While no official announcement was made on the matter, the merger opens the door for golfers who left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf to return to PGA Tour-sanctioned events, as mentioned by Monahan in his letter to the golfers.