And just like that, the guns stopped firing. Peace has broken out in golf after a year more bitter, toxic and unmanageable than almost anything in recent sports history.
In a shocking statement on Tuesday at 3 p.m., the PGA Tour and DP World Tour announced in 1,030 shocking words that they were joining hands with LIV in the most unlikely of unions.
Such was the astonishment that even Greg Norman, LIV’s Supreme Commander, was in the dark until a few minutes before his bosses in Riyadh authorized the release. His future is one of many unanswered questions as this bizarre and unthinkable marriage begins its quest for functionality.
To conclude the words of Keith Pelley, chief executive of the DP World Tour: “It’s too early to say what it means.” What is known between many whims is that all tours will remain self-contained entities, not a more complete amalgamation of tournaments as has been speculated.
Within that, the possibility of a team event between the circuits, privately said to be gaining momentum, but the main area of cooperation for the moment is nose-to-nose on what has been transported dry as an umbrella commercial center filled by the Saudi Arabian money spigot.
Greg Norman was in the dark about the shocking LIV merger until minutes before release
The process by which the Saudis handed over the keys to golf has gained momentum in the past month
Rory McIlroy allegedly turned down a package worth more than £400 million to join the escape
While that sounds a bit woolly and fuzzy, the clearest abbreviation is that the Kingdom has bought a truce convenient for all sides, and in doing so, they’ve effectively seized the keys to golf’s front door, as well as the back. In a year’s time they pretty much took over an entire sport.
For now, there will be a tremor of relief that the robberies and lawsuits have come to an end. But in their place are all sorts of other mysteries, not the least of which is how this will be sold to those players who chose to forego huge offers from LIV, then give this merger and the freedoms it will soon give to the Rebels. offer to see.
They’re freedoms that mean they can have their cake, eat it, and then go back to their past tours to eat more cake.
For example, what will Rory McIlroy think? It is clear that he turned down a package worth more than £400 million to join the Saudi breakaway group and has since been the most outspoken critic of Norman and his circuit.
It was always telling that while McIlroy led that fight, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan was far less visible, apparently happy for the world No. 3 to do the heavy lifting for him.
That went beyond the Northern Irishman’s public comments, as he was also the key behind-the-scenes cog in the Tour’s response and subsequent restructuring, which in one instance meant a seven-hour meeting in Florida.
The exhaustion from those efforts contributed to McIlroy missing the cut at the Players Championship, setting the tone for what has been a disappointing season to date.
By his own admission, the Civil War has had a major impact on his game, with the apparent kicker that those he sweated for have gotten into bed with the enemy.
Amanda Staveley, a key ally of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, was a peace broker
Staveley (pictured with Yasir Al-Rumayyan) has been heavily involved for several months now
None of this should presume that McIlroy had no part in the events leading up to the announcement. Actually far from that. While Pelley and Monahan have declined to reveal the more tangible details of the journey from disgusting hate to partnerships, Mail Sport has been told the process has accelerated massively in the past month.
It was during that period that we exclusively revealed that a truce was in the works via LIV’s moves to hire a peace broker in the form of Newcastle United managing director Amanda Staveley, who is of course a key ally of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
She traveled to the Masters in April and according to sources, she has been “intensely involved for months” alongside prominent former banker Michael Klein.
Obviously, she met McIlroy before Christmas, so it’s probably for a number of reasons that he’s one of the few golfers who had an inkling that this was coming. He will be speaking on Wednesday ahead of his defense of the Canadian Open and his thoughts should be very interesting.
The symmetry there is that he will be speaking exactly one year after one of the most dramatic press conferences his sport has ever seen. It was 12 months this week that the LIV defectors advanced on Centurion in St Albans for their inaugural event and were promptly bombarded with a series of questions about their complicity in Saudi sportswashing.
Among others, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were asked if there was anywhere they would not play, such as Vladimir Putin’s Russia or North Korea. A moderator, once of the Bush White House, was then chased out of a room while being asked if he accepted blood money.
Ian Poulter and other LIV defectors were questioned about their complicity in sports washing
Within minutes of the opening tee shots that week, the PGA Tour would issue statements suspending anyone who crossed.
The DP World Tour did the same and in the vicious consequences we’ve seen friendships shredded – McIlroy and Sergio Garcia were the most notable protagonists in that regard.
There have also been nine-figure lawsuits and countersuits, the chaos of Henrik Stenson’s resignation as captain of the European Ryder Cup team, protests by groups of 9/11 survivors and character assassinations, in a sport that used to be more conditioned to fight over entrenched moves and the correct way to handle loose impediments.
At one point, Monahan played the 9/11 card himself, with the pious indignation of a leader harboring the popular idea that dealing with the Saudis was morally wrong.
If there was any clarity on a crazy Tuesday, it came from the confirmation of what we already knew: this was never about where the money came from. Just its distribution.
LIV GOLF TIMELINE
- June 9, 2022: LIV Golf held its inaugural event in England, prompting the PGA Tour to suspend all members participating in the rival event.
- August 2022: Phil Mickelson and 10 other LIV golfers have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in response to their suspensions. The plaintiffs accused the PGA of using an illegal monopoly to suppress trade.
- October 2022: The PGA is filing a countersuit against the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which finances LIV Golf. PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan is named in the lawsuit.
- January 2023: The PGA files a motion alleging that the PIF interfered with its contracts by enticing players to join the fledgling league.
- June 2023: LIV Golf and the PGA Tour decide to merge, ending their competing lawsuits.