(RightWing.org) – In early June, the PGA Tour surprised golf fans by announcing a merger with the rival LIV Golf League. The two organizations have been feuding bitterly for over a year, and the merger deal has outraged many fans and players. Now the US Justice Department is taking an interest, too.
Since 1968, the PGA Tour has been the organizer of professional golf tours in North America. However, in 2021 it faced a challenge from a new organization, LIV Golf. Although LIV launched its first tour in London and has former Australian pro Greg Norman as its CEO, it’s being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s controversial royal family.
That almost bottomless funding allowed LIV to lure golfers away from PGA Tour, including big names like Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka. The PGA threatened to sanction any players who took part in LIV matches — even if they weren’t PGA Tour members — but struggled to compete with the lure of Saudi money. PGA Tour’s tough stance was backed by human rights groups who oppose the authoritarian Saudi monarchy.
Then, on June 6, PGA Tour made an abrupt about-face. Commissioner Jay Monahan announced that PGA Tour and LIV, along with DP World Tours, would merge into a single organization. Many fans were shocked, and human rights groups also slammed the decision.
Monahan insists the merger will “unify the game of golf,” and it will also end a number of legal fights between the two tours, but the Justice Department (DOJ) thinks it could also violate US antitrust laws. The DOJ was probing the lucrative golf tour business even before the merger was announced, but now it seems to have stepped up a gear. Even though the final details of the merger haven’t been worked out yet, the department has warned PGA Tour that it plans to review the deal. That’s certain to delay things and could even kill the merger completely.
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