Senate Hearing Reveals Origins of LIV Golf-PGA Deal

A hearing on the planned Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf merger took place on Tuesday morning with the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Chair of the committee, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, released a 10-page summary along with 265 pages of documented e-mails messages, and other communications that showed how the PGA Tour and the Saudi Public Investment Fund discussed a variety of dramatic measures that would significantly alter the landscape of professional golf with a merger.

Among the revealed proposals:

  •  a global “World Golf Series” team event that would conclude in Saudi Arabia
  • LIV Golf continuing to operate as an independent tour with its schedule confined to the fall season
  • Greg Norman being sidelined and removed from his role as LIV Golf chief executive
  •  Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy being given ownership of LIV Golf teams and participating in LIV Golf events
  • two elevated PGA Tour events branded by either PIF or the Saudi oil company Aramco
  • and a membership to the Augusta National Golf Club for Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF who is poised to be among the most powerful men in golf if the shocking alliance is finalized.

Senators questioned the hearing’s two guests: Ron Price, the PGA Tour’s chief operating officer, and Jimmy Dunne, a member of the tour’s policy board and a key architect of the agreement.

Dunne said there were misconceptions about the “merger,” explaining that there was an agreement to attempt to settle discrepancies, but not an actual merger.

Sen. Josh Hawley accused the PGA Tour of maintaining ties to Chinese companies and its government.

Since the announcement of the partnership, the PGA Tour has received pushback from multiple angles, including the families of September 11.

PGA officials stressed that the organization wasn’t simply turning over control of professional golf to a foreign entity.

Washington Post, NBC

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