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PGA Tour officials will testify in a Senate hearing on LIV Golf merger

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Ron Johnson said they want to examine the merger with the Saudi-backed tournament, as well as the future of the PGA Tour and U.S. professional golf.
Joaquin Niemann plays his tee shot on the 8th hole during day two of LIV Golf - Andalucia in Cadiz, Spain, on July 1, 2023.
Joaquin Niemann on the eighth hole on the second day of LIV Golf Andalucia in Cadiz, Spain, on Saturday.Octavio Passos / Getty Images

The leaders of a Senate investigative subcommittee on Monday announced two PGA Tour officials as witnesses for a hearing next week on the organization’s plan to merge with Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.

The Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations is set to hear testimony July 11 from PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and board member Jimmy Dunne. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who chairs the subcommittee, and the panel's ranking member, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said in a joint statement that they want to examine the planned agreement between the PGA Tour and the Saudis’ Public Investment Fund, as well as the future of the PGA Tour and professional golf in the U.S.

Blumenthal and Johnson requested testimony last month from LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and the Saudi investment fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan. The senators said representatives for Norman and Al-Rumayyan informed the subcommittee that they are unable to testify next week because of scheduling conflicts.

“We appreciate the PGA Tour working with us and look forward to a robust, thoughtful exchange with both Ron Price and Jimmy Dunne on July 11, focusing on the details and background of this deal and what it means for this cherished American institution,” Blumenthal and Johnson said in the statement.

“We regret that Governor al-Rumayyan and Mr. Norman’s scheduling conflicts will prevent them from attending the July 11 hearing,” they added. “Both Governor al-Rumayyan and Mr. Norman have valuable information to share about the operations of the Public Investment Fund, the future of LIV Golf, and Saudi Arabia’s plans to invest in golf and other sports. Consistent with our subcommittee’s practice, we look forward to working with both witnesses to find a mutually agreeable date for them to appear in the very near future.”

Joel Schuchmann, the PGA Tour's senior vice president of communications, said in a statement that the company looks forward to the hearing to answer senators' questions "about the framework agreement that keeps the PGA TOUR as the leader of professional golf’s future and benefits our players, our fans, and our sport."

LIV Golf and the PIF did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf announced the unexpected — and controversial — merger last month.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced last month that he has opened an investigation into the planned merger. He is seeking information from the PGA Tour’s leadership 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 announcing the probe, Wyden wrote that the merger plan “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.

The probe came after Wyden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., asked the Justice Department to “closely scrutinize” the planned merger, saying in a letter that the deal raises antitrust concerns that it and would help Saudi Arabia “‘sportswash’ its egregious human rights record.”