The PGA Tour wants to team up with LIV Golf to eliminate competition. Federal antitrust enforcers aren’t going to like that.
On Tuesday morning, the PGA Tour and LIV Golf announced a planned merger that ended nearly a full year of antitrust litigation between the two rivals. Until recently, LIV Golf, an upstart league founded in 2021, had portrayed the PGA Tour as a monopoly that illegally controlled the market for professional golf competitions. Meanwhile, the PGA Tour and its commissioner, Jay Monahan, had blasted LIV Golf for partnering with the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which is largely controlled by the Saudi royal family and has been accused of funding terrorism. The announcement brought sudden peace to a bitter, dramatic conflict.
The logic of the deal is easy to see. The PGA Tour was feeling pressure from LIV Golf, which had poached some marquee golfers. To keep up with the Saudis’ lavish spending, it was forced to pay out bigger prizes and dip deeper into its reserves. And the two organizations were enmeshed in an expensive lawsuit. “We were competing against LIV,” Monahan said after the deal was announced. The merger, he explained, was a way “to take the competitor off the board, to have them exist as a partner.”