PGA Tour and LIV Golf work to extend merger deadline until 2024

A PGA TOUR logo is seen after play was suspended due to heavy storms during the third round of THE PLAYERS Championship held on THE PLAYERS Stadium course at TPC Sawgrass on May 14, 2011 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

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The PGA Tour and LIV Golf are working to extend the proposed merger deadline, which was originally set for Dec. 31, commissioner Jay Monaha told players in a memo Sunday.

“While we had initially set a deadline of December 31, 2023 to reach an agreement, we are working to extend our negotiations into next year based on the progress we have made to date,” according to the memo obtained by CNBC.

Monahan told players that his goal for 2024 is to reach agreements with Strategic Sports Group (SSG), the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and DP World Tour, incorporating them as minority co-investors in PGA Tour Enterprises.

The PGA Tour recently announced that it was in the final round of negotiations with a coalition of American investors, called Strategic Sports Group. SSG is run by Fenway Sports Group. Monahan said they have made “significant progress” and have provided SSG with the due diligence information they requested.

“These partnerships will allow us to unify, innovate and invest in the game for the benefit of players, fans and sponsors,” he said.

Competing golf leagues are expected to make a formal decision on the combination before the Masters tournament in April, according to The Telegraph, which first reported the extension.

The delay is the latest update in a long and tumultuous saga between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, that has divided players and could dramatically change professional golf if the merger is completed.

The two entities agreed in June to combine business operations, shocking the global golf community and raising questions about competition and human rights considerations. Under the structure of the deal, PGA Tour would have a permanent majority stake in the new entity’s board of directors and PIF would be a non-controlling minority investor.

If the proposed merger is completed, PIF is willing to invest $1 billion in the new trading business. The agreement also includes the DP World Tour, also known as the PGA European Tour.

The deal is subject to likely antitrust scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Before the deal, the PGA Tour and LIV were embroiled in heated litigation as LIV Golf lured Tour players by offering them big contracts. LIV Golf recently signed world No. 3 player Jon Rahm to a contract worth $300 million.

Last month, the Tour told players it would begin offering direct equity ownership in the new company after reaching an agreement with investors.

In late November, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan told Andrew Ross Sorkin at the DealBook Summit that he would meet with Yasir Al-Rumayyan, president of LIV Golf and governor of the PIF, to continue talks.

“When this is finalized, the PGA Tour will be in a position where the athletes will own their sport and will not only have the PIF, but will likely have another co-investor with significant business experience in the sport and [in] brand that will help take the PGA Tour to another level,” Monahan said at the time.

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