Ryder Cup, McIlroy, and what next? | Golf’s big-money merger explained

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Sky Sports News' Jamie Weir explains the implications of the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

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Sky Sports News’ Jamie Weir explains the implications of the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

Sky Sports News’ Jamie Weir explains the implications of the merger between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf stunned the sporting world on Tuesday when announcing they are to form “a new collectively owned” entity. But what do we know so far about the shock merger, what does it mean for the Ryder Cup and golf’s future, and how have the players reacted?

What has happened?

LIV Golf, launched in 2022, was able to lure some of golf’s biggest names away from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, with players like Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter among those to sign up and claim a share of the staggering sums of money being offered.

The new entity was bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – owners of Newcastle United – and critics accused it of being a vehicle for the country to attempt to improve its reputation in the face of criticism of its human rights record.

After over a year of disharmony between the various tours, resulting in multiple lawsuits being filed and the suspensions of numerous LIV golfers from the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, Tuesday’s deal hopefully signals the end of such rifts.

  • LIV golfers who were suspended indefinitely by the PGA and DP World Tour will be able to re-apply for membership from the end of the 2023 season
  • All lawsuits between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV golf will be ended
  • Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which funded LIV Golf’s emergence, will make a capital investment into the combined entity as part of the agreement “to facilitate its growth and success”
  • A “comprehensive evaluation of LIV Golf to determine how best to integrate team golf into the professional game” will take place
  • LIV Golf’s 2023 schedule will continue as planned

PGA Tour commissioner Monahan, who had previously ruled out an agreement with LIV, said: “After two years of disruption and distraction, this is a historic day for the game we all know and love.”

The decision to merge comes less than two weeks before the third major championship of the men’s golf season, the US Open. For parts of 2022 and 2023, the majors were the only times LIV Golf players were included in the same field as PGA Tour and DP World Tour players.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says it is an 'historic day' for the game of golf following the decision to merge with LIV Golf and the DP World Tour

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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says it is an ‘historic day’ for the game of golf following the decision to merge with LIV Golf and the DP World Tour

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan says it is an ‘historic day’ for the game of golf following the decision to merge with LIV Golf and the DP World Tour

How did the players react?

The move was announced to players in a letter from Monahan on Tuesday.

It read: “Today is a momentous day for your organization and the game of golf as a whole.

“The PGA Tour – your Tour – is leading the formation of a new commercial entity to unify golf, one that sees the end of the disruption and distraction that has divided the men’s professional game for the better part of three years.”

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Mickelson, who has become a de-facto spokesperson for the LIV Tour over the last year, tweeted: “Awesome news”.

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But some PGA Tour players, including two-time major winner Collin Morikawa, appeared to suggest they discovered the news via social media at the point it broke.

Morikawa tweeted: “I love finding out morning news on Twitter.”

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Sky Sports News reporter Jamie Weir said: “This is, first and foremost, a complete shock. This came out of the blue,

“I think everybody was surprised by this – I’ve spoken to a lot of players this afternoon and they knew nothing about this at all, so they were finding out for the first time like a lot of us by scrolling through Twitter this afternoon, finding out bits and bobs here and there.”

How will the Ryder Cup be affected?

A big question to come out of the announcement of the merger is how might selection be affected for this September’s Ryder Cup teams in Rome.

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley explained to Sky Sports News: “There’s only two criteria to be a Ryder Cup player – you have to be European and you have to be a DP World Tour member. Those are the criteria.

“If you’re not a DP World Tour member, you can’t play in the Ryder Cup.”

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has defended the decision to merge with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, and explains the implications for Ryder Cup selection

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DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has defended the decision to merge with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, and explains the implications for Ryder Cup selection

DP World Tour chief executive Keith Pelley has defended the decision to merge with the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, and explains the implications for Ryder Cup selection

European stalwarts Garcia, Poulter, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson, who was initially named team captain, all resigned from the DP World Tour in May following further sanctions on players who competed in LIV Golf events last year without permission.

Pelley said of the quartet: “They’re not members. They would have to be reinstated. Maybe they will request reinstatement but we will have to see.”

Weir added: “Luke Donald will still be the European Ryder Cup captain in Rome this year.

“Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, the backbone of many successful Ryder Cup teams, they will not be in Rome this year.

“Under the DP World Tour criteria, by May you need to have become a member of the DP World Tour to be eligible for the Ryder Cup team. Those guys are not eligible for the Ryder Cup team as things stand.

“That’s not to say that come 2024 they might re-join the DP World Tour and they could be on the team in 2025 and Ian Poulter could be captain.”

What will Rory McIlroy be feeling?

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy was often at the forefront of the battle with LIV over the last two years, defending the PGA Tour.

Sky Sports' Andrew Coltart was 'shocked' by the news the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf are to merge to become one unified entity

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Sky Sports’ Andrew Coltart was ‘shocked’ by the news the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf are to merge to become one unified entity

Sky Sports’ Andrew Coltart was ‘shocked’ by the news the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf are to merge to become one unified entity

Reflecting on how he might react to this news of a merger, Sky Sports golf analyst Andrew Coltart said: “He’s given his heart and soul for the last two years, arguably to the detriment of his own golf game, for the support of the DP World Tour and PGA Tour, and I have to question whether he knew much of this.

“But there’s absolutely no doubt that if he did, it would have been an incredible distraction, and he would have wondered what was all the time and effort for to get to this point.”

McIlroy’s former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, meanwhile, told Sky Sports News: “I think he’ll be happy that there’s a resolution.

“I think he’ll trust the board of the PGA Tour, of which he’s a member – as chairman of the players’ committee.

“There’s going to be a huge influx of money coming in, and there’s the fact that the top players want to compete against each other, so he’ll welcome that too.

“I think there will be a lot of positives to take out of it. But just like everybody else, I’m sure he’s got a million questions going on in his head – just like I do at this moment in time.”

Sky Sports' Rich Beem would be surprised if Rory McIlroy was not included in discussions about the merger of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

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Sky Sports’ Rich Beem would be surprised if Rory McIlroy was not included in discussions about the merger of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

Sky Sports’ Rich Beem would be surprised if Rory McIlroy was not included in discussions about the merger of the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf

Is Greg Norman still involved?

A key name absent from the press release announcing the merger was Greg Norman, LIV Golf’s CEO and one of the leaders in the Saudi-backed Tour’s creation.

He has been the target of a lot of criticism from those on the PGA Tour, and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan – who holds the position as chair of the newly-formed entity – told CBS he only informed Norman about the merger moments before making it public.

“I made a call just before this and of course he is a partner with us, and all the stakeholders that we have with us they had the call right before this interview,” Al-Rumayyan said.

Dame Laura Davies expects the animosity that emerged between some players over LIV Golf to subside when they get back out on the course

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Dame Laura Davies expects the animosity that emerged between some players over LIV Golf to subside when they get back out on the course

Dame Laura Davies expects the animosity that emerged between some players over LIV Golf to subside when they get back out on the course

Sky Sports golf expert Dame Laura Davies said of that revelation: “It sounds like it’s been a bit cloak and dagger; if Greg Norman didn’t know about it, then if I was Greg Norman then I would feel like one of the losers in this deal because you would have thought he would have been at the forefront.”

Weir added on Norman: “He’s conspicuous by his absence in that statement.

“He’s been an agent of disruption for Saudi Arabia over the past 12 months; he’s ruffled a lot of feathers. There was a lot of people saying that for there to be some kind of consensus and common ground he would have to be moved to one side – it appears that might now well be the case.”

What next?

Sky Sports News’ Jamie Weir:

“There are a lot of unanswered questions. One of them is how will men’s professional golf look next year?

“The PGA Tour have already created this new schedule for next year with designated events – how are they going to look now? There will be a DP World Tour schedule and will LIV continue in its own form?

“For the rest of this season it will continue presumably as normal but next season, will we see these 54-hole shotgun start tournaments with the Fireballs and the Majesticks? Perhaps not. All of this still needs to come out in the wash.

“What does it mean this Saudi involvement in golf? Deep in the statement, it says PIF now have first refusal on anybody else wanting to invest in the PGA Tour. Essentially now Saudi Arabia have a much larger stake in men’s professional golf than they did before.

“And the big, big question is what happens with the players? The players that stayed loyal and the players who will be coming back.

“There needs to be some form of sanction for those players, I think is what a lot of the PGA Tour loyalists will feel. The players are understandably pretty aggrieved and a lot of them feel those huge sums of money they turned down, will they be recompensed for that and will there be any sanctions for these guys coming back?

“It’s been a crazy 12 months for the game of golf. I don’t think this is going to go away any time soon.”

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