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How Can PGA LIV With Itself and Government?

Big golf news this week as a recent merger was announced by former enemies LIV Golf and the PGA Tour that, if successful, will drastically change the world of professional golf forever. The PGA Tour is the world’s most prominent and influential professional golf league, while LIVE Golf is little more than a startup backed by Saudi money.

The creation of LIV sliced the sport in two halves, with some players opting to jump ship and make a cash grab to compete for a new league, affecting golf predictions as well.

How Can PGA LIV With Itself and Government?
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman watches from a suite - Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFP

The move is a drastic departure from PGA Golf’s opinion about LIV over the past two years. Players who joined LIV were forced to quit the PGA Tour and its European equivalent, the DP World Tour. LIV Golf sued, the Tour countersued, and the relationship quickly became acrimonious. Many critics claimed the Saudis’ involvement in the sport was merely an attempt to distract attention from its atrocious human rights violations.

The pair spent much time in court fighting against each other, so why are they now buddy-buddy? As you might expect, it all comes down to the almighty dollar. The Saudis have deep pockets and are willing to overspend to get what they want.

Tour Players Not Pleased

Obviously, the players who abandoned the PGA Tour, such as Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka, were delighted to hear the news of the potential merger. After being ridiculed and forced to quit the PGA Tour, things for them can return to “normal” if the merger goes through.

But it’s not all smiles among players, especially those who stayed loyal to the PGA Tour. Many of these players felt blindsided by the news and only learned about the proposal when they saw it on the news.

According to Johnson Wagner, a PGA Tour Player, a meeting was held where many of his peers called for PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to step down from his position. Wagner added that he believed around 90% of PGA Tour players in that meeting were against the proposed merger with LIV Golf.

The most outspoken critic of the move has been Rory McIlroy, but it appears even he is warming to the idea of Saudi money in golf. He said, “Honestly, I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that this is, you know, this is what’s going to happen.”

Someone give the guy a trophy for something.

— Football (@BostonConnr) June 19, 2023

US Government Involvement

While it feels like our two sides of government couldn’t be further apart, the proposed merger has brought bipartisan outrage on Capitol Hill. Members on both sides of the aisle are getting together to try and kill the deal before it can get off the ground.

There have been calls for congressional investigations into the merger, while others are seeking help from the Justice Department and other regulators to block the move based on antitrust laws.

Congress is expected to get involved only after regulators get the wheels in motion. Word on the street is that most congress members are at least uneasy about the deal.

Many members worry that the merger would give the Saudi government too much influence in the United States. Saudi Arabia’s long history of human rights issues is another cause of concern for many in Congress. One notable example is the planning and murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, spearheads the government’s probe into the deal. According to the letter written by Blumenthal to the PGA Tour commissioner Monahan, “PGA Tour’s agreement with PIF regarding LIV Golf raises concerns about the Saudi government’s role in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over a cherished American institution.” He added, “PIF has announced that it intends to use investments in sports to further the Saudi government’s strategic objectives.

The letters sent from Blumenthal to Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman were full of requests for documents and communications between the PGA Tour, LIV Golf, and PIF. Investigators are very interested in how the negotiations went and why the PGA changed course and ended up merging with their sworn enemy.

Furthermore, the U.S. The Department of Justice is conducting its own investigation into the PGA Tour and its monopolistic practices.

In the meantime, the golf betting world will remain cautious waiting for a resolution.

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