A major name in Democratic politics has launched a Senate inquiry into the planned merger of the PGA Tour and LIV Golf. The two entities announced last week that they would end their two-year rivalry and form the most powerful governing body the sport has ever seen.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., requested details of the agreement between the two organizations, due to LIV being backed by Saudi Arabaia’s Public Investment Fund. The PIF, and its endeavors into the world of golf, horse racing, and WWE events, has been widely viewed as an attempt to ‘whitewash’ the country’s global image.
Blumenthal addressed his concerns in letters to PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
The Senator’s letter of inquiry focused on the doubts about whether the PGA-LIV deal can legally be completed. Both sides have fired off a mountain of filings and litigation against each other since the fledgling league announced its inception.
Bidding wars for talent soon followed, and players were caught in the middle of a public relations quandary. If they took the money and departed the Pro Golfer’s Association, it was a long-term and public relations risk. However, staying put meant watching in North America, while their contemporaries cashed huge checks from the Middle East.
However, there was more controversy than that, and on a much grander scale. The Saudi government has stood accused of wide-reaching human rights violations for decades. And quite frankly, they haven’t exactly been forthcoming when it comes to explanations or apologies.
Anti-Saudi sentiment has only escalated under the rule of Mohammed bin Salman. The young Crown Prince has been has been credibly accused by many in the Western World of orchestrating the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi
Following Khashoggi’s death in 2018, MBS denied any involvement, either personally or by his government. However, Turkish police believe that Khashoggi was tortured and killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
9/11 Families United, a group representing the families of victims of the terrorist attack, has ripped the news of the PGA doing business with the Arab nation. Blumenthal has sided with those same families in the past in a dispute involving the Saudis and golf. Another organization called the 9/11 Justice Group lobbied against a LIV Golf tournament taking place at one of President Donald Trump’s country clubs in 2021.
The June 6 merger announcement was a “sudden and drastic reversal of a position concerning LIV Golf,” wrote Blumenthal, who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
In a statement of response, the PGA Tour said it was “confident that once Congress learns more about how the PGA Tour will control this new venture, they will understand the opportunities this will create for our players, our communities and our sport, all while protecting an American golf institution.”