The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the LIV Golf League, which have been embroiled in a bitter legal battle for more than a year, have agreed to merge and move forward in a larger commercial business, the circuits announced Tuesday.
The tours called the stunning development “a landmark agreement to unify the game of golf, on a global basis.”
The landmark deal was reached without the knowledge of many PGA Tour members and LIV Golf players and agents.
Said one PGA Tour player reached by ESPN on Tuesday, “No f—ing way.”
A golf agent, who represents a couple of high-profile LIV Golf players, told ESPN that he was unaware of the merger.
“You just made my heart skip a few beats,” the agent said, before the deal was officially announced.
In a statement, the circuits said the parties have signed an agreement that “combines PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf) with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity to ensure that all stakeholders benefit from a model that delivers maximum excitement and competition among the game’s best players.”
The circuits said the agreement ends all pending litigation between the parties.
The three tours said they 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 DP World Tour following the completion of the 2023 season.”
“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 in a statement. “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.”
The LIV Golf League, which was being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and fronted by two-time Open Championship winner Greg Norman, and 11 of its players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, had sued the PGA Tour in federal court last year, alleging that the PGA Tour had used its monopoly power to squash competition and influence vendors, media companies and others from working with LIV Golf.
The PGA Tour filed a countersuit, alleging that LIV Golf had interfered with its contracts with players.
Also unclear was what form the LIV Golf League would take in 2024.