Highlights from Tuesday's hearing on the LIV Golf-PGA Tour merger:
- The Senate Homeland Security Committee's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a three-hour hearing on PGA Tour's planned merger with Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.
- The committee heard testimony from PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne. LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and the Saudi investment fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, did not appear because of scheduling conflicts.
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chaired the panel, was most critical of the deal, repeatedly urging PGA Tour officials not to go through with it. Republicans, led by Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, were more supportive.
- The merger was announced last month. Experts say it is the latest move by Saudi Arabia to flex its influence in the U.S. and jump on economic opportunities, following accusations of human rights abuses and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Details of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger are ‘very murky,’ Sally Jenkins says
Blumenthal's closing remarks: 'We need to learn more'
In his closing remarks, Blumenthal expressed mild dissatisfaction with how incomplete the hearing proved, especially given the absence of the two key players in the proposed agreement, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Saudi investment fund’s governor.
"We need to learn more," Blumenthal said. "We're going to ask the other potential witnesses who we invited to actually come to share their perspective and information. … The more we know, the more we can support the values and freedoms that we have espoused here today."
Blumenthal told the Tour officials present that America is "on your side" and urged them to set aside the immediate financial concerns.
"It shouldn’t be about the money, the disruption, the uneconomic offers," Blumenthal said.
"I recognize you can’t say you're going to walk away, but I hope you bargain hard," Blumenthal said. "We will continue this inquiry. Uncovering more of the facts is in the national interest and part of our obligation."
Johnson calls for 'time and space' to let LIV and PGA Tour make deal
Johnson's closing remarks were largely uncritical of the merger, noting that deal would allow "the game of golf" to "bridge divides" between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.
He also expressed some skepticism around concerns about the deal based on allegations of the Saudi government's involvement in 9/11, citing Dunne's testimony and saying that he "trust[s] his judgment."
Johnson seemed to support the deal moving forward, calling for LIV and PGA Tour to be given "time and space and privacy" to "conclude the deal."
Dunne commits to meeting with 9/11 families attending hearing
Asked by Blumenthal if he would commit to meeting with the families of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks present at the hearing, Dunne responded: "Yes."
As Dunne answered Blumenthal's question, a spokesperson for the 9/11 families, Brett Eagleson, approached the witness desk and dropped off what appeared to be a few papers.
NBC News viewed one of the documents after the hearing: It was a redacted document on Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attack.
The hearing has ended
Sen. Blumenthal gaveled out the hearing just before 1 p.m. ET, after about three hours of testimony.
The golf world's (non) reaction so far
Two hours into today's Senate hearing, there's been a notable silence from leading voices in golf about what has transpired.
For example, Phil Mickelson, the highest-profile current LIV and former PGA Tour member who is usually active on social media, has not tweeted.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlory, the two highest-profile Tour members who rejected LIV's overtures and who usually post on Instagram, have also not posted.
But there's a general sense among what's become known as "golf Twitter" — mostly golf writers — that Democrats, who control the Senate, are not in favor of the deal.
The deal's failure would likely be fatal to the Tour — and possibly allow the Saudis and LIV to win anyway, as Andy Johnson, who writes for The Fried Egg, a golf blog, tweeted.
Price: We would not allow censorship of our players on gay rights
Blumenthal pushed Price on whether he would allow players to be censored on LGBTQ issues, bringing up the example of Qatar restricting the ability of attendees, players and teams to have rainbow flags and other items when the nation hosted the FIFA World Cup last year. Blumenthal pushed Price on whether he would allow a host country such as Saudi Arabia, which criminalizes homosexuality, to do the same.
Price said that the PGA Tour would "never impose" those rules and that tour officials "determine where events are played."
Meanwhile, another Senate committee has launched its own investigation
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced last month that he has opened an investigation into the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger.
Wyden has been critical of the agreement and is seeking information from the PGA Tour, from details about the framework of the deal to an assessment of the merger’s implications for national security.
In a letter to the organization’s leadership, Wyden wrote that the merger “raises significant questions about whether organizations that tie themselves to an authoritarian regime that has continually undermined the rule of law should continue to enjoy tax-exempt status” in the U.S.
Ex-Sen. Mark Pryor, lobbying for Saudi fund, spotted in hearing room
Former Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who now works for the firm that helped Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund prepare for today's hearing, is here in the room.
Last month, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) hired Pryor's employer, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, ahead of today's high-stakes hearing, according to the Politico Influence newsletter.
Politico reported that the firms' team — including former Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, former diplomat Samantha Carl-Yoder and "a crew of former Hill aides," like Nadeam Elshami, who worked for then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi — would "provide PIF with 'education and advocacy'" before the U.S. government, including the PGA Tour agreement.
Sens. Johnson and Blumenthal call for release of more 9/11 documents
In an exchange in the opening of the hearing, Johnson and Blumenthal agreed on the need to release more documents relating to 9/11, hoping that a bipartisan effort could come out of the LIV merger hearings.
The families of 9/11 victims, some of whom are at the hearing today, have long campaigned for the release of more information about the attacks, specifically related to Saudi involvement. President Biden released some documents in 2021, but families are calling for the release of more.
Hawley presses PGA Tour on China, and Tour pushes back
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo, accused the PGA Tour of maintaining ties to Chinese companies and its government, citing PGA Tour China.
Price pushed back, saying the organization severed its ties to China after the PGA China Tour ceased operations in 2020, and added that the PGA Tour currently has "no plans" to stage any events in China.
Hawley also pushed Price to condemn China’s systematic detention of its Uyghur minority, which the U.S. says amounts to genocide.
"Senator, we certainly do not condone or support that type of activity," Price responded.
Saudi PIF governor sought membership to Augusta National, home of The Masters
Documents shared by the committee during the hearing reveal that one proposal was to grant Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Saudi PIF governor, a membership to Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters.
Under a presentation slide titled "Proposals For Consideration," Al-Rumayyan was also to receive membership with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, which hosts the British Open.
The PGA Tour does not have jurisdiction over either of those major events, so it is not clear how this was going to be accomplished. Membership in those clubs is extremely rare and highly coveted. Augusta National famously didn’t admit its first Black member until 1990 and didn’t offer membership to women until 2012.
“As part of” those proposed membership agreements, the slide showed, LIV would “review its senior management structure and Board composition.”
Blumenthal: 'There is something that stinks' about deal with LIV
Blumenthal made an impassioned plea to Price and Dunn to decline the deal, saying that they "still have the choice to stand up against 'sportswashing,' against the Saudi monarch" and to "stand up for America."
“There is something that stinks about this path that you’re on right now because it’s a surrender,” he said.
The comments came after Blumenthal pressed the pair about alternative financial options for keeping the PGA Tour afloat.
Dunne said that it was "possible we will not come to an agreement" with LIV.
Senate Democrats asked DOJ to open an antitrust probe
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked the Justice Department to “closely scrutinize” the merger, saying in a June letter that the deal raises antitrust concerns and would help Saudi Arabia “‘sportswash’ its egregious human rights record.”
The letter, addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Jonathan Kanter, the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, argues that the deal violates U.S. antitrust law and says it “appears to have a substantial adverse impact on competition” and “would result in a monopoly” on golf operations in the U.S. “regardless of whether the deal is structured as a merger or some sort of joint venture.”
The deal would also make the PGA Tour complicit “in the Saudi regime’s latest attempt to sanitize” its human rights abuses and deserves “serious and urgent attention” from regulators, wrote Warren and Wyden.
Dunne: 'The rollout was very misleading'
In a candid moment, Dunne reflected on the stunning announcement of the PGA Tour's agreement with LIV Golf last month.
“The rollout was very misleading and inaccurate, which is everyone’s fault," he said.
"There is no merger; there is no deal. There is simply an agreement to try to get to an agreement," he continued.
Rand Paul says probe of golf deal is government overreach
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky, said that although there are "valid questions" surrounding Saudi Arabia, Congress has no authority to probe the PGA Tour-LIV Golf deal.
“I find no grounds for government to be involved in the game of golf,” Paul said.
Blumenthal pushed back, noting that there is a "long history of oversight of sports" and said the committee could review the PGA Tour's tax exempt status.
Congress has "not only a legitimate role but an imperative role" to probe the deal, Blumenthal said.
Blumenthal presses PGA not to sign a nondisparagement clause
Blumenthal asked the PGA Tour to state publicly that the two sides would not sign a nondisparagement clause as part of the deal with LIV Golf.
Price said the existing agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf does not have such a clause. He added that he does "not anticipate it having that" and "wouldn't recommend it to the policy board for approval."
Dunne reiterated Price's point, saying he "wouldn’t recommend" a nondisparagement clause to the policy board. Dunne said Blumenthal made an "excellent point," adding, "We hear you, we understand and I’ll advocate for it.”
Committee releases 276-page memo on documents obtained so far
At the top of the hearing, the committee released a 276-page memo to the public that includes new documents and correspondences between PGA Tour officials and LIV Golf leading up to the deal, laying out how they would navigate allegations of hypocrisy.
The memo says that the documents obtained by the panel so far "illustrate the need for further inquiry."
PGA Tour requested 'side agreement' that sought to fire Greg Norman from LIV
One person who was likely not going to be involved in the future of the PGA Tour was legendary golfer and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, new documents show.
As part of the initial discussions between representatives of the PGA Tour and the Saudi PIF, PGA Tour officials "requested a side agreement" specifying that Norman "not be retained" by LIV Golf following the execution of the agreement, according to Senate subcommittee documents.
In an interview with CNBC announcing the initial agreement, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the Saudi PIF governor, said Norman was informed of the merger just a few minutes before it broke.
“I made a call just before this, and of course he is a partner with us, and all the stakeholders that we have with us, they had the call right before this interview,” Al-Rumayyan said.
In the months leading up to the agreement, Norman's leadership of LIV had begun to come under question as the league struggled to find TV deals. Sports Illustrated has reported that Norman’s role had become more “figurehead.”
Dunne: Saudi investment would be 'north of $1 billion'
Asked by Blumenthal about how much Saudi investment would be contributed to the deal, PGA Tour board member Jimmy Dunne said it would be a "significant amount."
Pressed to get more specific, Dunne said the investment would be "north of $1 billion."
The possibility that additional investments could be made is "in the complete control of the PGA Tour," whose board of directors has "absolute control over how much funding now and in the future."
PGA's Dunne defends deal against critics who cite 9/11
In his testimony, Dunne responded to critics of the deal who have pointed to Saudi Arabian links to the 9/11 attacks, saying that no involvement of Saudi government officials has been proven. "If any person had the remotest connection to an attack on our country or the murder of my friends, I am the last guy who would be sitting at a table with them," he said.
Dunne worked at an investment firm in the Twin Towers and said he lost 66 of his colleagues. He credits his survival of the 9/11 attacks to the game of golf, as he was away from work playing in a tournament that day.
Several family members of people killed in the 9/11 attacks are in the audience today.
Johnson: Money can't erase the 'stain' of Khashoggi murder
Money cannot erase the "stain" of the "brutal" murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and other human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, Johnson said in his opening statement, adding that "legitimate questions" surrounding the merger are merely one tenet of a broader effort to hold Saudi Arabia to account.
"After all, anyone who drives a car or uses oil-based products has helped fill the coffers of the Saudi public investment fund," Johnson said.
"Congress does have legitimate role to play in settling the confusion in the law governing professional sports," he said, but noted that he did not sign the Democratic majority's "request for information" because "the parties are in the midst of what should be a private negotiation, and there is no deal to review."
PGA Tour COO Price says 'goal is to protect an American institution'
In his opening testimony, PGA Tour COO Ron Price emphasized that in moving ahead with the deal, the "goal is to protect an American institution that generates approximately $200 million for 3,000 charities through tournaments across 34 states in a single year, brings the highest level of sports and entertainment to millions of fans around the globe, and provides the most pro-competitive, legacy-driven platform for the world’s best players. That goal— our core mission — has been under threat for the better part of two years. When the Saudi-funded LIV Golf Tour launched its inaugural series in 2022, the Tour faced an unprecedented attack."
He added that it became clear that litigation with LIV Golf "was undermining growth of our sport and threatening the very survival of the PGA Tour and it was unsustainable. While we had significant wins in the litigation, our players, fans, partners, employees, charities, and communities would lose in the long run."
"Instead of losing control of the PGA Tour, an American institution and tradition, we pursued a peace that would not only end the divisive litigation battles, but would also maintain the PGA Tour’s structure, mission, and longstanding support for charity," he said.
PGA Tour's Dunne Seeks To Clarify Saudi PIF's Role In Proposed Entity
Jimmy Dunne, an independent director with the PGA Tour and a key architect of the tour's agreement with the Saudi PIF, sought to clarify the kingdom's role in the proposed entity after what he describes as mischaracterizations by the public following the June announcement.
In prepared remarks, Dunne, an investment banking titan who joined the Tour board in January and quickly became part of Commissioner Jay Monahan's inner circle, said the PIF would hold only “a noncontrolling voting interest, notwithstanding any incremental investment by PIF,” in the proposed entity.
While Dunne acknowledged that the head of the PIF would be the chairman of the new entity, he would only have one vote on its proposed board, and the PGA Tour would appoint a majority of the board members.
9/11 families are in attendance at the hearing
Members of 9/11 Families United, whose family members were killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, are attending today's hearing. The group's national chair, Terry Strada, is among them and submitted a statement for the official record.
"It has been nearly 8,000 days since my husband Tom Strada was brutally murdered by Saudi-funded terrorists when they attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, murdering thousands and injuring scores more," Strada wrote in her statement.
"Today we are watching a truly bizarre spectacle," she continued, "as the PGA Tour is effectively turning over the game of golf to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We know why the PGA Tour is doing it — it’s for the money. But that isn’t why the Saudis are doing it. They’re doing it as a public relations strategy to distract from their authoritarian past and present, and especially their unacknowledged culpability for supporting al Qaeda and the hijackers of September 11."
Blumenthal tears into 'repressive' Saudi regime in opening statement
Blumenthal opened the hearing with a harsh criticism of Saudi Arabia: "Today's hearing is about much more than the game of golf," he said. "It's about how a brutal, repressive regime can buy influence, indeed even take over a cherished American institution to cleanse it's public image. It's a regime that has reportedly killed journalist, jailed and tortured dissidents, fostered the war in Yemen, and supported other terrorist activities including the 9/11 attack on our nation."
The hearing room is at full capacity
It's now standing room only. Twenty more people are standing in the back room. But many appear to be congressional interns.
Hearing witnesses arrive for testimony
The hearing has begun
The hearing on the PGA’s planned merger with Saudi backed LIV Golf has begun.
Led by Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will hear testimony from PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman and the Saudi investment fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, will not appear because of scheduling conflicts.
PGA Tour COO Ron Price has arrived
Price has arrived in the hearing room. He did not respond to questions.
Notable absences today: LIV Golf and the Saudi Public Investment Fund
LIV Golf will not be represented at today's hearing because the committee wanted to hear from CEO Greg Norman, the star former player who was once the face of the LIV Golf operation. Norman’s future is in doubt. He was not part of the announcement of the partnership between the two organizations and the PGA Tour has stated repeatedly that their CEO, Jay Monahan, will be the head of the joint venture going forward.
According to Doug Mayer, a spokesperson for LIV Golf, Norman is traveling out of the country and was not available to appear before the Senate panel. LIV Golf offered acting COO Gary Davidson in his place and the committee turned them down.
A spokesperson for Blumenthal said the committee is planning on hearing testimony from Norman, and only Norman, sometime in the near future.
“We have requested testimony from Greg Norman, and unless there is a reasonable explanation for his absence — which we have not been provided — Greg Norman is who we expect to appear,” the spokesperson said.
Yesterday, Blumenthal said this will be the first in a series of hearings and the committee will use all tools available, and did not rule out subpoenas, to get the testimony they want.
Blumenthal added they are hoping to hear from players as well. “I wouldn’t rule out anyone as a potential witness in our hearings," he said.
Khashoggi’s widow says he wouldn’t want Saudi Arabia penalized amid golf deal
Eamon Javers, CNBC
The widow of Jamal Khashoggi, the Washington Post columnist whose 2018 murder fueled international outrage and embroiled Saudi Arabia’s crown prince in scandal, says her husband’s killing should not prevent the country from cutting major deals in the United States or turn it into a pariah state.
In an interview with NBC News, Hanan Elatr Khashoggi said that her late husband would agree that the people of Saudi Arabia — the country of his birth — shouldn’t be penalized because of the actions of a few.
“I would like Saudi Arabia not to be abandoned, not to be a pariah country because Jamal Khashoggi never asked this to be done to his country,” said Hanan Elatr Khashoggi, who filed a lawsuit this week related to his death.
“Generally speaking, the golf thing is [a] sport deal, economic deal, political deal, with any country in the world,” she said. “I don’t want Saudi Arabia to suffer ... and the public, we will suffer, because of the act of 20 individuals — I say mentally sick, they are criminal.”
Hearing moved to bigger room due to large interest
The hearing was originally scheduled to be held in a smaller hearing room on the fifth floor of the Dirksen Senate Office Building, but the hearing was moved to Hart 216, the same room where Supreme Court confirmation hearings are held, to accommodate interest in the hearing.
It is expected to run two to three hours.
PGA Tour COO previews testimony in op-ed: 'This is not a merger'
Ron Price, the chief operating officer of the PGA Tour, previewed elements of his planned testimony in an op-ed in which he argued the new business arrangement would not a “merger,” but instead an investment by the Saudi Public Investment Fund that will make them minority partners.
“This is not a merger. The PGA Tour remains intact. The subsidiary — PGA Tour Enterprises — will include PIF as a non-controlling, minority investor, as they are in many other American businesses. PGA Tour Enterprises will be led by a board of directors. The majority of that board will be appointed by the PGA Tour and that entity will be run by a CEO. That CEO will be PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan," Price wrote in an opinion piece published in The Athletic.
Monahan recently took a leave of absence to deal with a health issue, but informed Tour players that he would be returning to the job July 17.
"The PGA Tour’s controlling interest on that board of directors will remain constant going forward, regardless of the size of the PIF’s initial or any future incremental investments. The board of directors will also have the ability to decline any unwanted investment,” Price added.
He also expressed "regret" for not effectively explaining the parameters of the agreement with the Saudi Public Investment Fund earlier, but argued that working with the investment group will avert costly legal battles and ultimately strengthen the game of golf.
“We have moved beyond costly and destructive litigation (which the framework agreement resolved) and are now exploring whether we can reach a definitive agreement, we are committed to answering those questions and showing how this deal will benefit professional golf — particularly our players, fans, and partners,” Price wrote.
Golf’s PGA Tour and LIV merger is the latest power play by Saudi Arabia
A blockbuster sports deal set to merge two rivals — the PGA Tour, an organizer of top-level professional golf tournaments mostly in the U.S., with LIV Golf, an upstart league funded by Saudi Arabia — stunned players and fans alike. But the tentative plan to combine forces and position Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to invest billions of dollars in the joint venture goes beyond a lucrative power play by the oil-rich kingdom.
Observers say it’s the Saudis’ latest attempt to flex their influence across a breadth of American institutions, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, and mine economic opportunities in spite of tense relations with the West in recent years brought on by accusations of human rights abuses and the 2018 killing of journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.
Top Republican does not think golf hearing should be held
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the top Republican on the committee, said that he doesn’t think today’s hearing should be held and that the PGA Tour and LIV Golf should be allowed to negotiate “without interference from Congress.”
“I’m looking forward to the hearing, but I don’t think we should be having it. I know that’s somewhat of a contradiction,” Johnson said in an interview Monday night. “And the reason we shouldn’t be having this is you don’t negotiate things in public. This is going to be a difficult enough negotiation. We ought to let the parties do it for the good of the game of golf.
“Golf is a sport that kind of can bring the world together. It can do some healing. I mean, if golf helps Saudi Arabia modernize, wouldn’t that be a good thing in general?” he continued. “So, I’d much rather let the parties negotiate the deal without interference from Congress.”
Johnson argued that Saudi Arabia’s investment in American golf would not improve its public image.
“There’s not enough billions of dollars to wash away the stain of the Khashoggi murder. ... Any of us that drive a car, use oil-based products, we’re the ones filling the coffers of the public investment fund," the senator said. "So I mean, as long as we keep buying the oil, we’re certainly complicit in that as well.”
Blumenthal says there will be more hearings
Asked about LIV executives not appearing at today's hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Monday that he hoped to hear their testimony soon and that “there will be more hearings.”
“They declined only because of scheduling conflicts," he said. "There will be more hearings and we will work to arrive at a mutually acceptable date."
Blumenthal also warned not to “rule out anyone as a potential witness" after being asked if LIV CEO Greg Norman or LIV players might appear before his panel.
“We’ve been in touch with agents for some of the players, we’ve been in touch with other executives,” he said. “I wouldn’t rule out anyone, especially, but most importantly, if they have information.”
Here are excerpts from Blumenthal's opening statement
“Today’s hearing is about much more than the game of golf … It is about how a brutal, repressive regime can buy influence — indeed even take over — a cherished American institution simply to cleanse its public image, a regime that has killed journalists, jailed and tortured dissidents, fostered the war in Yemen, and supported other terrorist activities, including 9/11. It’s called sportswashing,” Sen. Blumenthal will say in his opening statement for today’s hearing, according to his prepared remarks.
“It is also about hypocrisy, and how vast sums of money can induce individuals and institutions to betray their own values and supporters, or perhaps reveal lack of values from the beginning. It’s about other sports and institutions that could fall prey — if their leaders let it be all about the money,” Blumenthal will say in his remarks.
“Perhaps to state the obvious, sports are central to our culture and society, with huge implications for our way of life, our local economies and communities close to home, and our image abroad.”
“We hope that today’s hearing will help us uncover not only the reasons for the PGA Tour’s sudden reversal and what it means for golf, but to understand what similar investments by authoritarian governments with deep pockets could mean for our country, for our national security, and for the world,” he will say.
Blumenthal: Saudi Arabia engaging in 'sportswashing' to cleanse its image
On the eve of the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the proposed PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger amounted to “sportswashing” by Saudi Arabia to cleanse its image.
“We’re seeking to uncover the facts that ought to deeply concern the American people about this iconic, cherished American institution being taken over by one of the most repressive regimes, Saudi Arabia, for the clear purpose of cleansing its image,” Blumenthal told reporters Monday evening.
“It’s called sportswashing, and sports are central to our culture and society, to local economies that depend on the PGA Tour, and our athletes are ambassadors of values.
Blumenthal, who is chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, also questioned whether the PGA Tour, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit, should continue to be exempt from paying income tax.
“So I think we need to know how this deal came together, who was behind it, who profits from it, and whether, for example, the PGA Tour should continue with its tax exempt status when it’s a subsidiary of a for-profit-making institution?"
Justice Department investigating PGA Tour’s merger with LIV Golf
Here’s why the PGA Tour merged with LIV Golf
The PGA Tour announced last month it would merge with LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed men’s golf organization that formed last year to compete with the PGA Tour.
News of the merger sent shock waves through the sports world and even reached the highest echelons of the U.S. government, after a reporter sought comment from the Biden administration about the Saudi government’s taking such a large stake in men’s golf.
Hearing to kick off at 10 a.m. with two officials from PGA Tour
Today's bipartisan hearing, entitled "The PGA-LIV Deal: Implications for the Future of Golf and Saudi Arabia's Influence in the United States," will be led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
The panel will hear this morning from two PGA Tour officials: Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. ET.
Blumenthal had previously demanded records from PGA Tour outlining work that ended in the tour’s merger with Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf. The plan, Blumenthal wrote to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan last month, “raises concerns about the Saudi government’s role in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over a cherished American institution."