PGA Tour And LIV Golf Merger Was Twist We Should Have Seen Coming
It was the shocking twist that no one saw coming, but perhaps we always should have done, because in the murky, complex world of corporate maneuvering, when two opposing sides cannot coexist in the marketplace, they come together in a package laced with hypocrisy and buzzwords that describe revolutions and talk of untold opportunities.
The announced merger of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf under a yet to be named entity that will be externally financed by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia took everyone by surprise; media, insiders, officials, and most crucially; the players, including those individuals who didn't tap into the vast earnings of the breakaway circuit and remained loyal to an establishment that has now - after months of recriminations and lawsuits - effectively done the same thing as those so-called "rebels" in the first place.
For those who have understandably grown tired of the public fallouts and have missed seeing the world's best players competing regularly together, this stunning announcement is a welcome one, potentially opening the door for a truly global tour that takes the leading names across the planet in enhanced international tournaments that will undoubtedly entertain keen fans of the game who are less interested in the mechanics that made it a reality.
However, more discerning viewers out there will question just how PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan can turn from invoking the victims of 9/11 (the vast majority of hijackers in those attacks were Saudi nationals), questioning the morality of LIV Golf and those players who made the switch, before fronting up this arrangement that many will find hard to digest.
Speaking of which. What now for the players - especially those on the PGA Tour who rejected the advances of LIV and attempted to forge a new future, chief among them Rory McIlroy, who had become a de-facto spokesman for the leadership at Ponte Vedra Beach?
It would appear that the likes of Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson succesfully had their cake and ate it, while members of the PGA Tour (completely blindsided by these clandestine negotiations) will be left wondering what was the point of their loyalty in the first place.
As followers of HBO's corporate drama Succession can attest to, sometimes the dramatic conclusion is the one that was retrospectively always likely - we were all just too caught up in the daily shenanigans and headlines to notice.
Separately, beyond the tiring public squabbles, the long-term viability of LIV Golf was doubtful, while the PGA Tour has been struggling with mediocre television ratings and sponsors questioning their backing as popular names were being excluded from fields. Legal action was opening both entities up to scrutiny they didn't wish to face.
Rather than self-assured mutual destruction, you sign a peace treaty and declare unity.
By uniting, the PGA Tour retains significant control over men's professional golf with an incredible financial injection behind it, while the Public Investment Fund integrates itself within a sport and diversifies its business interests. Essentially, they both can declare victories, providing you can overlook the hypocrisy.
At last year's Canadian Open, Monahan (now infamously) said: "I would ask any player that has left or any player that would ever consider leaving; have you ever had to apologise for being a member of the PGA Tour?"
Now, exactly 12 months on, it's the commissioner who will be the one being asked the pressing, moral questions.
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