Greeson: Merger? Nope, LIV just swallowed the PGA Tour

Captain Brooks Koepka, of Smash GC, hits from the third tee during the final round of LIV Golf Tulsa at Cedar Ridge Country Club, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Broken Arrow, Okla. (Amy Kontras/LIV Golf via AP)
Captain Brooks Koepka, of Smash GC, hits from the third tee during the final round of LIV Golf Tulsa at Cedar Ridge Country Club, Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Broken Arrow, Okla. (Amy Kontras/LIV Golf via AP)


With the silence of a hushed 18th on those April Sundays at Augusta, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan turned the entire golf world — maybe even the entire sports world — upside down.

News of the plans for the PGA Tour and the DP Tour to merge with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf circulated across social media like a celebrity break-up multiplied by a Trump zinger raised to the power of a Kardashian.

It was everywhere. In a matter of seconds.

The details were scarce, but who would expect anything else, especially when Monahan and his cronies redirected course more haphazardly than the Skipper and Gilligan and had the communication skills of cardboard when it came to informing the PGA Tour players.

And that radio silence assuredly was not lost on multiple Tour stars — guys like Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and especially Rory McIlroy — who have spent the last two years of the PGA-LIV feud bitterly defending their brand of golf and aggressively attacking their LIV counterparts.

For that loyalty and commitment and sacrifice — the bigger names turned down nine-figure bonus offers from the LIV folks — the reward was a slap in the social media of learning about the merger on Twitter.

Fore!

It also exposes the true foundation and purpose of the PGA Tour. Money. Plain and simple, in the here and to the future.

Whether this merger was motivated by the PGA Tour lawyers' advice that the current LIV lawsuit was going to be damaging, expensive and nearly impossible to win or whether the DP Tour knew its long-term fight on the course was a losing effort, this concession will be the lasting legacy on Monahan's failed run as PGA boss.

Heck, somewhere failed NCAA exec Mark Emmert should send Monahan a thank-you card for joining the debate of the worst sports league bosses in the modern era.

Look, the original allegations about sports washing that were lobbed at LIV like a perfect Tiger Woods wedge still hold true. And worse yet, now Monahan's bending of the knee validates the Saudi's attempts at sports washing way more than Phil Mickelson or Brooks Koepka or any single player could ever have.

Heck, Mickelson and Koepka only took the Saudi's money. Monahan gave the Saudis the keys to the cart of the entire professional golf world.

According to USA Today, Monahan's deal Tuesday is going to include large investments from the Public Investment Fund (the PIF, which is the sovereign wealth account that funds the Saudi government) and also offers the PIF dibs. The merger states the PIF "will initially be the exclusive investor in the new entity" and "will have the exclusive right to further invest in the new entity, including a right of first refusal on any capital."

This is not a merger; this is a cession from Monahan and a verification for Greg Norman and all of the LIV.

Sports washing is almost as common as washing sports uniforms, in sports and business, if we're being honest.

Almost every league passes the societal-pressure buck if and when it can, be it the NFL's ducking of player safety, the NBA's jazz hands around its partnership with China or almost anything else.

Think Wal-Mart is doing business with some sketchy governments? How about the gas station where you filled up your car this morning?

But Monahan's failures are magnified by the echoes of the quotes of his and his minions' — including unwitting participants like McIlory and voluntary, blowhard mouthpieces like Brandel Chamblee — that centered on emotional duplicitiousness and typified the hypocrisy on each side of this fight.

Whether it was the hollow "growing the game" line, the now-disingenuous (but still true) "golf should not be a monopoly" or the formerly accurate and now-fraudulent "have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour," there are very few winners today, and none that sided with Monahan and the PGA.

Because the original rallying points — building the game, sports axioms like playing for your legacy and clear connections to 9/11 — against LIV have not changed. They now are just covered by the PGA's umbrella and picked up like a 6-inch gimme, and the LIV will be part of the history of professional golf like Jack's 18 majors and Tiger's billion-dollar net worth.

In the end, the PGA Tour was all-in to fight the good fight until the moral high ground came at too high of a financial burden and the idea of someone else growing the game made it real clear that would shrink the PGA's role in it.

Maybe, for all the predictions Mickelson has made through the last 18-plus months of this PGA Tour-LIV feud, Monahan paid the least attention to the one that made the most headlines.

Because through all the fights and finger-pointing, the bitter words and back-channel bickering, Monahan simply ignored the real-life implications for the PGA Tour to get into a fight with, as Mickelson called them, some "scary mothers" — and you know the rest.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com