The PGA Tour and its Saudi-backed rival, LIV Golf, have unveiled a plan to merge, but it’s not yet a done deal—and it can still be stopped.
The two golf tours have been at each other’s throats for months, with LIV offering massive paychecks to lure golfers away from PGA. PGA, meanwhile, slammed Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. LIV sued the PGA Tour for antitrust law violations, and the Tour countersued, accusing LIV of using players “and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities.”
But the PGA Tour’s policy board has to approve the deal first—and it hasn’t yet. Here are the names of the 10 people who could stop the merger:
- Ed Herlihy
- Jimmy Dunne
- Mark Flaherty
- Mary Meeker
- Randall Stephenson
- Patrick Cantlay
- Charley Hoffman
- Peter Malnati
- Rory McIlroy
- Webb Simpson
It’s also possible that if a group of the world’s top players spoke out against the deal, then it might not move forward. McIlroy and Tiger Woods were both vocal in condemning LIV, but McIlroy said Wednesday he is “resigned” to the fact of Saudi Arabia’s growing influence in sports.
He also seems to feel that the merger will happen. “I still hate LIV. I hope it goes away, and I would fully expect that it does,” McIlroy said Wednesday during a press conference at the Canadian Open. “Whether you like it or not … the Saudis want to spend money in the game of golf, and they weren’t going to stop. This is the one thing that I’ve always thought about, how can we get that money into the game, but use it the right way?”
Another option would be for the Department of Justice to block the merger by arguing it violates antitrust laws. The department is already investigating the PGA Tour over LIV’s allegations of antitrust violations. But it’s unclear if the department will step in or how long that could take.