5 Questions About The PGA Tour, LIV Golf Merger

There is a lot up in the air after the announcement that the established tours have merged with LIV Golf

His Excellency Yasir Al-Rumayyan, president of the Arab Golf Federation and Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf
What are the implications for LIV Golf of the merger with the PGA Tour?
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It was the announcement that no-one saw coming, not even the players it seems. After all the quarrels and ill will from either side of the divide in the men's game, the PGA and DP World Tours have decided to merge with LIV Golf in what is being hailed as a "momentous day."

Among a great many other things, it brings an end to the litigation that was pending and will see a new, collectively owned commercial entity formed with the aim of delivering excitement and competition among players across all tours. 

More than anything else at this early stage, though, it raises questions. How did this happen? Why did very few people have any idea it was being discussed behind closed doors? What does it mean for the Ryder Cup and players who resigned their memberships to the PGA and/or DP World Tours? The list goes on.

With that in mind, we thought it best to run through some of the more pressing issues and attempt to provide explanations and realistic suggestions where possible...

How will the tours merge?

The new entity that is to be created still has no name, so it's unlikely we'll find out the answer to this until probably late in 2023, but this is what we know thus far via the PGA Tour statement.

It read: "The parties have signed an agreement that combines PIF’s golf-related commercial businesses and rights (including LIV Golf) with the commercial businesses and rights of the PGA TOUR and DP World Tour into a new, collectively owned, for-profit entity."

It continues: "The Board of Directors of the new commercial entity will include [Yasir] Al-Rumayyan as Chairman and [Jay] Monahan as Chief Executive Officer; the new entity’s Board will also include an Executive Committee comprising Al-Rumayyan, Monahan, [Ed] Herlihy and PGA TOUR Policy Board member Jimmy Dunne.

"The full Board will be announced at a later date, and it is anticipated that all three founding members will have representation."

So, it appears the 'new entity' will be largely run by the PGA Tour and Public Investment Fund, but what does that mean for the golfing calendar? Remember, the big issue the established tours had with LIV Golf was that it was running conflicting events and contracting some of the sport's biggest names to play in them. 

There will still be a PGA Tour, DP World Tour and LIV Golf in 2024 it seems, so maybe little will change. LIV events will clearly be kept away from the PGA and DP World Tour flagship events, as well as the Majors, but it's very possible next year's calendar could look similar, albeit LIV players will likely be able to feature on the other circuits again.

Given LIV's current 48-player, shut-shop policy, however, it will be interesting to see whether current PGA/DP World Tour members will have such fluidity...

Is team golf going to be a regular feature?

One of LIV's biggest aims when it launched was to introduce more regular team competition to golf to go with the individual element, similarly to how Formula 1 operates. That led to the formation of 12, four-man teams, all with captains who can recruit players and make trades, again like other sports. 

4 Aces GC celebrate winning the team tournament at the 2023 LIV Golf Adelaide

4 Aces GC are the most successful LIV Golf team to date

(Image credit: Getty Images)

With this announcement, that concept is set to be built upon. In his statement, Monahan said: "With LIV Golf in the midst of its second, groundbreaking season, the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and PIF will work together to best feature and grow team golf going forward."

That seems to indicate the 2023 LIV Golf League will run its course as planned, before something is perhaps figured out for next year. One of the ideas that has gained some traction is that the manufacturers could buy team franchises, so maybe that's the way this plays out.

How they organise this across three different tours remains to be seen, but it appears the most likely solution at this stage.

Is this the end for Greg Norman?

On an appearance on CNBC in America, Al-Rumayyan, governor of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), was asked if Greg Norman had been involved in discussions about the deal, replying: "He is aware. I made a call just before this. Of course, he's a partner with us. All the stakeholders with us had a call right before this interview."

Greg Norman at the 2023 LIV Golf Adelaide tournament

What does the future hold for LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman?

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's hardly a vote of confidence for your commissioner to find out with the rest of the world. Does that mean the Australian's days are numbered in his current role as the face of LIV Golf? After all, he helped stoke the flames of division, repeatedly aiming digs in Monahan's direction and taking the odd shot at Rory McIlroy for good measure.

Norman wasn't clear about his future in his first comment since the news of the merger was announced, either, writing on Twitter: "A great day in global golf for players and fans alike. The journey continues!!"

There have previously been rumours linking Norman with an exit, so this new deal could be the final straw.

What about the Ryder Cup?

The decision in favour of Keith Pelley and the DP World Tour back in April effectively meant Europeans on the LIV Golf roster wouldn't be available to play on Luke Donald's team in this year's Ryder Cup. Has that now changed?

The answer is not yet, but it could. As well as his written statement, the DP World Tour posted a video of Pelley running through a few questions most likely to be on people's minds. Among them, he was asked about those who had resigned their memberships in order to play on LIV without facing further sanctions.

He said: "Once again, I've been completely consistent with this since we announced our sanctions in the first place, that there was always a route back. Players were not banned, there was always a way for them to return to the DP World Tour.

"What we will do now is work very collaboratively with the PGA Tour and the PIF to establish what we believe to be fair and an objective process for any player who wishes to reapply for membership, who wishes to come back to the DP World Tour.

"But just as it was in the initial arbitration, the process will be consistent with the Tour's disciplinary process."

That seems to suggest that anyone who rejoins the DP World Tour will still be hit with some sort of sanction. The number of competing LIV Golf events they played is therefore likely to determine the length of suspension and their chance of playing in this year's Ryder Cup.

Going forward, however, should the European contingent of LIV Golf all regain DP World Tour status, they could once again be eligible to qualify for the biennial contest.

An added ripple to all this is the issue of captaincy. The Tour's rules state that any player who has resigned their membership can no longer be considered for a backroom role in the Ryder Cup, even if they do reapply successfully. So, unless Pelley makes an exception, that means the likes of Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson still won't be able to serve as captain of Team Europe.

Does this mean LIV will get OWGR points?

The lack of world ranking points has been one of the biggest issues for LIV and its players, leaving the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Sergio Garcia in freefall.

Koepka has mitigated his losses in the last few months by finishing in a tie for second at The Masters and winning his third PGA Championship, but the rest are still well out of position. It's an issue of eligibility more than anything else, with entry into the four Majors still largely dependent on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

As a consequence, the OWGR has come under plenty of criticism for its lack of accuracy. Phil Mickelson has been one of its fiercest critics, but does this now mean LIV will get the recognition it so desperately craves?

It certainly feels like more an inevitability than ever, especially with Monahan and Pelley on the OWGR board. The pair previously recused themselves from being involved in LIV's case because of a conflict of interest, but that now appears to have been replaced by a vested interest.

LIV Golf shouldn't automatically be granted OWGR points on the back of this announcement, but it wouldn't be a surprise if it accelerated the process.  

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x