LIV Golf & PGA merger latest: Rory McIlroy comments, Bryson DeChambeau message

By | July 7, 2024

LIV Golf & PGA merger latest: Rory McIlroy comments, Bryson DeChambeau message

Both McIlroy and DeChambeau have weighed in on the current merger negotiations (Image: Getty)

Over a year has passed since the bombshell prospect of a partnership between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf – backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – first rocked the golfing world. Discussions are still actively underway over 12 months later with PIF recently indicating that negotiations are “continuing to progress”.

The ongoing saga has sent ripples through the golf community, prompting reactions from numerous players as many chime in on the current situation. The PGA Tour’s special subcommittee – which includes prominent figures such as Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, chairman Joe Gorder, John Henry, and Joe Ogilvien – are deeply involved in the talks.

While the initial framework for an agreement was laid out some time ago, the finalisation of terms remains elusive, leaving both players and spectators increasingly anxious. As the dialogue continues among the key stakeholders, PIF and the PGA have jointly acknowledged in recent weeks that their discussions are “continally to progress”, even though the original deadline of December 31, 2023 has already passed, reports the Mirror. Here, we look at the latest on the situation.

 

 

Their joint statement confirmed: “Representatives from the PGA TOUR Enterprises Transaction Subcommittee and the PIF have been meeting multiple times weekly to work through potential deal terms and come to a shared vision on the future of professional golf. On Friday evening, an in-person session in New York City included the entire Transaction Subcommittee and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his team, where more progress was made.”

PGA and PIF are buzzing with confidence that a lucrative agreement on the future of professional golf is imminent, with wads of cash already swapping hands.

The PGA Tour has been buoyed by a colossal $3billion (£2.3bn) windfall from Strategic Sports Group pocketing an eye-watering initial sum of $1.5bn, with another $1.5bn set to bolster their coffers down the line. As negotiations trundle on with whispers of headway, the drawn-out process is starting to ruffle feathers among the committee’s ranks.

 

 

McIlroy, despite being on the transaction committee with the likes of Woods and Scott, has recently declared he’s taking a step back to let the more seasoned negotiators tackle the “big boy stuff” at the table.

Last month, The Mirror reported that McIlroy said: “There’s going to be people in that room on the PGA Tour side who are going to take the lead. And it’s not going to be Adam, Tiger or I. That’s going to be Jay, Joe Gorder, Joe Ogilvie, John Henry. It’s going to be the business guys. We’re there to maybe give a perspective from a player’s point of view.

“This is a negotiation about an investment in the PGA Tour Enterprises, this is big boy stuff. And I’ll certainly be doing more listening than I will be doing talking.”

This strategic shuffle comes over a year after McIlroy expressed his disdain for LIV Golf, but did admit that talks of a potential merger could be a good idea.

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At the time, he remarked: “Whether you like it or not, the PIF are going to keep spending money in golf… at least the PGA Tour now controls how that money is spent.

“One of the biggest sovereign wealth funds in the world, would you rather have them as a partner or an enemy? At the end of the day, money talks and you’d rather have them as a partner.”

Now, McIlroy appears to be warming up to the idea of a merger with LIV Golf, indicating a shift in his previous stance. He said: “My stance on some of the LIV stuff has softened. They’re contracted to play 14 events, but the other 38 weeks of the year you’re free to do what you want.

“The only thing is there are so many tours and so many golf tournaments. There are only a certain amount of weeks in the year. That’s the complicated part. Trying to figure out which tournaments go where, when do we play them, how many players, what players.”

DeChambeau made the switch to LIV Golf in 2022 (Image: Getty)

DeChambeau’s hopes for his favourite PGA events

Bryson DeChambeau, who famously headed away from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf, has expressed hope that he’ll be able to return to some of his favourite PGA Tour events if the merger goes ahead.

Despite the staggering £98million offer over four years that lured DeChambeau to LIV Golf, he insists his decision was influenced by considerations for his family’s future.

DeChambeau stated: “People can say I moved to one side, but I did it for my family and what I had in front of me at that point in time. I think my mom would have probably smacked me for not taking the deal.”

The golf star also spoke about the ongoing merger discussions, urging those involved to maintain dialogue with players from both the PGA and LIV Golf circuits. DeChambeau shared his aspirations to return to some of his favoured PGA events in an interview with Gulf News: “Look, I would love to continue to showcase my skill set around the world in different places, whether it be Shriners or the Arnold Palmer, Mr. Nicklaus’ event [The Memorial], TPC Las Vegas.”

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He continued, expressing his fondness for certain tournaments: “I’d love to play those events. They’ve been great to me. Shoot, even Riviera [Genesis Invitational]. I’d love to play Tiger’s event; put on a fantastic event in a good community and around some great people. That’s what I look forward to hopefully being able to do down the road.”

On his future plans and schedule, DeChambeau was contemplative: “Do I want to play a full schedule? You know what, I don’t know. We’ll see how things shake out.

“I don’t know what the future is going to look like, and I’m not here to decide that. But would I like to play a few? Sure, ones that I truly enjoyed and had a lot of friends with and helped impact the community in a positive way, absolutely.”

 

While at the Masters in April, Sergio Garcia shrugged off any notion of tension and suggested that the media – rather than the players – were fuelling division.

He remarked: “I think the game is in a perfect spot. The professional game, maybe it’s a little more separated, mostly because of the media, not so much because of the players. But I think the game itself is in a great spot. I think that we have the most amount of people playing the game, which is great, and people have to realize one thing, that the future of the game isn’t us.

“We’re not the future of the game. Neither me or Rory [McIlroy], no. We’re not the future. We’re the present of the game… I mean, obviously the more togetherness that you get, the better it is for everyone. There’s no doubt about that. But there’s room for everyone. I don’t think that’s a problem at all.

“The same way that I love watching Real Madrid and La Liga, you like to watch the premiership and whoever your team is. Everybody can support whoever they have, and there’s plenty of people to support it.”

Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth, who sits on the PGA Tour’s policy board, hinted he might stir controversy if he spoke out about the ongoing merger discussions.

The American is playing his cards close to his chest amid ongoing negotiations, as he emphasised the importance of getting things right for the future of golf.

He said: “That’s an extremely loaded question that I could get in a lot of trouble answering. I’ll just say things of that nature take a little bit of time, but they’re very active. That’s about as far as I can go for you.”

Spieth further added: “I would like to see it done right for everyone. So the timing is the timing. Obviously if anything can be done right and done sooner, that’s great. But I would rather see it done correctly and done the right way for golf going forward for the longest amount of time, regardless how long that takes to get there, yeah.”

 

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