PGA Tour-LIV Golf Merger in Danger Due to Justice Department Review?

The Justice Department has antitrust concerns regarding the proposed merger

Brooks Koepka and Rory McIlroy at the 123rd U.S. Open Championship.
Maybe LIV's Brooks Koepka and the PGA's Rory McIlroy won't be in the same league after all.
Sean M. Haffey/Getty

The much-maligned merger between the PGA Tour and the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) LIV Golf circuit likely won’t become official for at least a year, according to a senior PGA Tour executive, The Wall Street Journal reports. Per the WSJ, the official also indicated it’s possible that the agreement between the PGA Tour and PIF “will fall apart entirely if the sides cannot settle on specific terms.”

A new Justice Department investigation into antitrust concerns regarding the merger and a separate government probe into how the alliance of golf’s former rivals came about will do nothing to stabilize the situation — nor will the head of the Senate finance committee, Ron Wyden, introducing legislation to revoke Saudi Arabia’s state-backed fund’s tax-exempt status.

“The PGA Tour’s involvement with the PIF [Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund] raises significant questions about whether organizations that tie themselves to an authoritarian regime that has continually undermined the rule of law should continue to enjoy tax-exempt status in the United States,” Wyden wrote in a letter to PGA management.

Power Broker Who Lost 66 Employees on 9/11 Helped Create PGA-LIV Merger
Jimmy Dunne joined the PGA Tour’s policy board as an independent director in 2023

The PGA Tour previously survived an antitrust investigation by the Federal Trade Commission in the 1990s, but Saudi Arabia and its poor public image were not involved when that probe took place. That’s not the case this time around, and lawmakers who listened to Tour commissioner Jay Monahan‘s anti-Saudi rhetoric only to see him turn around and ink a lucrative deal with the PIF may not want to cut the PGA a break.

“We are confident that once all stakeholders learn more about how the PGA Tour will lead this new venture, they will understand how it benefits our players, fans and sport while protecting the American institution of golf,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

As all of this play out away from the links, members of LIV golf and the PGA Tour are playing in Los Angeles at the U.S. Open. After 18 holes, Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele were both eight under par after shooting the two lowest rounds in U.S. Open history. Eight of the last 11 U.S. Open winners have been first-time major champions, and both Fowler and Schauffele would fit into that category.

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