The chief executive officer of Endeavor, the parent company of UFC and Professional Bull Riders in addition to talent agencies IMG and WME, said his firm considered making a $1 billion investment in LIV Golf before ultimately deciding against it out of loyalty to the PGA Tour, according to a report from Front Office Sports. During an appearance on Freakonomics Radio, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said his company “held internal discussions” about making a $1 billion investment in LIV Golf after PGA Tour defectors Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau “made an approach to talk about funding” the startup league, per Golfweek.
Those talks fell through, but not because Emanuel or Endeavor had any moral qualms about investing in the controversial Saudi-backed circuit. “I haven’t really thought about it, ” he said. “They’re doing what they’re doing.”
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Instead, the idea of investing in LIV Golf was squashed because of Endeavor’s preexisting ties to the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan.
“We’re all connected in golf,” Emanuel said. “And [the PGA Tour] said, ‘Please don’t do it.’ So we stopped. I’m friends with Jay. We have a lot of business with Jay. I don’t want to hurt Jay. I said to Jay, ‘We’re pulling out. But you have got to figure out an economic solution here because it’s going to force you. And he did. To his credit, I think Jay did an incredible job.”
Members of the rival golf circuits will battle it out soon at the Los Angeles Country Club from June 15-18 at the U.S. Open. With approximately 65 spots in the 123rd edition of the tournament still up for grabs, 14 LIV golfers including Harold Varner III, Brendan Steele, Carlos Ortiz, Sebastian Munoz and Marc Leishman will attempt to qualify by competing in 36-hole qualifiers on Monday. Ryder Cup captains Zach Johnson and Luke Donald and PGA of America club pro Michael Block, who became a star at the PGA Championship, will also attempt to qualify.