When the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the money behind upstart LIV Golf, announced a stunning commercial agreement June 6, the former rivals said they also would be ending their legal fight.
Between the potentially embarrassing discovery process, which both camps reportedly were desperate to avoid, and the rapidly escalating legal fees pinching the PGA Tour far worse than the deep-pocketed Saudis, it seemed to be the classic win-win proposition.
On Friday, the warring parties filed a joint motion to dismiss the litigation in U.S. District Court of Northern California, and the request was granted by Judge Beth Labson Freeman. The action ends 10 months of bitter legal maneuvering.
However, the tour’s proposed deal with the Saudis, which would establish a new for-profit entity while maintaining the PGA Tour’s 501(c)(6) not-for-profit status, is anything but certain and might not happen for at least another year, perhaps longer. Consider:
The U.S. Senate opened an investigation into the PGA Tour’s proposed deal with the Saudis’ PIF as Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, alerted both organizations about the probe. READ MORE
The Justice Department intends to review the tour’s proposed commercial deal with the Saudis, The Wall Street Journal reported. The DOJ already had been investigating the tour on suspicion of anticompetitive behavior. READ MORE
Key Democratic legislators in both houses of Congress urged wider federal scrutiny of the tour’s proposed alliance. In a letter obtained by ESPN, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to oppose the deal if it reduces competition and violates federal antitrust laws. Also, in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Reps. Maxine Waters of California and Sherrod Brown of Ohio, both of whom chair key committees in the House, requested that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States examine the national-security implications of golf’s deal. READ MORE and MORE
In a letter to Congress obtained and published by Politico, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan complained about a lack of action by the government and leaving the tour with little choice but to strike a deal with the Saudis’ sovereign wealth fund. “… we were largely left on our own to fend off the attacks, ostensibly due to the United States’ complex geopolitical alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Monahan wrote. READ MORE
The New York Times Company has filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Northern California to unseal court records in the lawsuit filed by LIV Golf and its owner, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and governor Yasir-Al-Rumayyan. READ MORE
LIV players Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau, speaking last week before the U.S. Open in Los Angeles, said they were assured by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who controls the purse strings for the rival tour as overseer of the PIF, that LIV would remain in business through 2024, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach reported. READ MORE
In an apparent goodwill gesture, LIV Golf’s Saudi investors reportedly are planning to set up a compensation fund for players such as Rory McIlroy and others who remained loyal to the PGA Tour amid the rival tour’s overtures last year, according to Martyn Ziegler of London’s Times newspaper. The initiative would allow LIV signees such as Phil Mickelson and others to keep the bonus money that they were paid to join the breakaway tour and “level up” those who stayed on the PGA Tour. No details were provided. READ MORE
LIV CEO Greg Norman is facing a lawsuit involving a teenage girl who claims that she was sexually assaulted in 2021 by two unidentified teen partygoers at Norman’s Florida home, London’s Daily Mail reported. In the lawsuit, the unnamed girl, a classmate of Norman’s stepdaughter, alleges that she became inebriated after having been provided alcohol by Norman’s wife, Kirsten, at a party in the Normans’ Palm Beach Gardens home. Stuart Grossman, Greg Norman’s lawyer, called the allegations “false.” READ MORE
LIV Golf and its HyFlyers GC, captained by Phil Mickelson and one of 12 teams in the league, are defendants in a complaint alleging trademark infringement filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. Cool Brands Supply S.A. contends that the HyFlyers logo is nearly identical to that of a footwear/apparel line manufactured by the Argentine company. READ MORE
One week after announcing a shocking partnership with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the primary financier of LIV Golf, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan was said to be “recuperating from a medical situation,” the PGA Tour announced Tuesday in a news release.
The tour did not provide any details regarding the nature of the ailment, his prognosis nor a timetable for a return to work.
In the interim, Ron Price, the tour’s chief operating officer, and Tyler Dennis, the tour’s president, will lead operations.
Monahan, 53, who replaced Tim Finchem as commissioner in 2017, had been expected to meet with players and media this week in Cromwell, Connecticut, the site of the Travelers Championship. Now, Price and Dennis are scheduled to lead the meeting, which will come two weeks after a contentious showdown at the RBC Canadian Open when Monahan briefed the players on the framework of the Saudi deal. READ MORE
USGA CEO Mike Whan (right), with USGA president Fred Perpall
Chris Keane, USGA
Tiger Woods won’t be competing in a major championship before next year’s Masters. The R&A confirmed that Woods, 47, who has been sidelined indefinitely since he underwent surgery in mid-April to fuse his right ankle, will not compete in next month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. Since he was seriously injured in a single-car rollover crash in early 2021, Woods has undergone multiple surgeries and made only five starts on the PGA Tour, including two withdrawals and a best finish of T-45 in the Genesis Invitational in February. Woods remains tied with the late Sam Snead for the most victories in PGA Tour history, at 82, and has plummeted to No. 1,062 in the Official World Golf Ranking. READ MORE
A two-year investigation into the taxable valuation of Trump National Golf Club Westchester was dropped by the district attorney in Westchester County, New York, resulting in no criminal charges against the Trump Organization or its chief, former President Donald Trump, Insider reported. READ MORE
Compiled by Steve Harmon