"Union of professional circuits is inevitable"

"It's the only way for growth and prize funds to continue at this level. It's inevitable," he adds

by Andrea Gussoni
"Union of professional circuits is inevitable"
© Getty Images Sport - Quinn Harris / Stringer

It's just a matter of time before circuits that have historically competed at the professional level, primarily the US PGA Tour and now the European DP World Tour, unite, albeit later rather than sooner, to form a unified entity, stated the outgoing CEO of the DP World Tour, Keith Pelley, on Sunday, as the PGA Tour and the LIV Golf continue to work on plans to join forces.

Golf, tours

Pelley, who will be succeeded by the current Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director of the European Tour, Guy Kinnings, on April 2nd, has been advocating for an agreement between the PGA Tour and the LIV, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Pelley told 'The Times' that he remains "convinced that the game will unify. Whether it's in six months, a year, two years, or ten years, I believe people are realizing that a collective product is best for global golf," asserts the Canadian.

"It's the only way for growth and prize funds to continue at this level. It's inevitable," he adds. Pelley, who is unlikely to witness the agreement before his departure, will assume the role of President and CEO of MLSE, whose brands include the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA's Toronto Raptors.

"Would I love to stay and see it through? Yes. But you can't control timing," he added. LIV Golf is a professional men's golf tour, with the name "LIV" representing the Roman numerals for 54, the number of holes played at LIV events.

The inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series event commenced on June 9, 2022, at the Centurion Club near St Albans in Hertfordshire, UK. The Invitational Series transitioned into the LIV Golf League in 2023. Financed by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, LIV Golf has faced scrutiny from journalists and commentators who suggest it is part of the Saudi monarchy's efforts to enhance its public image through sports, amid criticisms of corruption and human rights abuses.

The conception of a new golf tour to rival the PGA Tour emerged in 2019 with the announcement of the Premier Golf League. In response, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan suggested that golfers participating in a new league might face exclusion from PGA Tour events.

Later in 2020, the PGA European Tour and the PGA Tour formed a "strategic alliance" aimed at collaborating on commercial opportunities, scheduling, and prize funds for their respective memberships. Although the Premier Golf League engaged in discussions with Saudi investors regarding financial collaboration, Golf Saudi, a division of the Public Investment Fund, opted to finance a new entity in 2020 with plans to establish a global professional league, often referred to as the "Super Golf League".

This entity officially launched in October 2021 as LIV Golf Investments, with former professional golfer Greg Norman appointed as CEO.