U.S. government intervention could turn the completion of the PGA Tour’s agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund into a years-long process.
The Department of Justice has notified the Tour that it will review the planned partnership with the PIF for antitrust concerns, a source confirmed to Front Office Sports on Thursday.
Lawyers continue to work on a deal that would pass not only regulatory approval, but also calm growing concerns by lawmakers. But PGA Tour employees were told this week that the outcome of the merger likely won’t be known for at least a year, The Wall Street Journal first reported.
“We are confident that once all stakeholders learn more about how the PGA TOUR will lead this new venture, they will understand how it benefits our players, fans, and sport while protecting the American institution of golf,” the PGA Tour said in a statement to FOS.
The PGA Tour has been cooperating with the DOJ for months, and it’s believed that the shift toward reviewing the partnership that will be backed by up to $3 billion of PIF funds is an offshoot of the probe launched last year.
Potential intervention by the DOJ and regulators could be why LIV Golf parties continue to move forward as if the league will continue to operate as normal — despite PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan initially saying he didn’t see the breakaway circuit remaining in its current form.
On Wednesday, Dustin Johnson said that PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan told him LIV will remain in business through next year. “Everything I’ve heard, they’re still working on a full schedule for next year,” Johnson told ESPN. “The rest of this year and 2024 is going to be the same.”
If the Tour and PIF were already expecting scrutiny from the DOJ, it makes sense that the two parties would plan to operate separately while the new deal is worked out.
Should that take at least 12 months, a new-look PGA Tour in golf’s potentially unified landscape may not go into effect until 2025 at the earliest.