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US Senate opens probe into LIV-PGA golf partnership

Senator Richard Blumenthal sends letter to PGA and LIV demanding documents related to agreement announced last week
The PGA Tour and rival Saudi-backed LIV Golf circuit announced a landmark deal last week to merge and form a commercial entity to unify golf.
PGA Tour and rival Saudi-backed LIV Golf announced landmark deal last week to merge and form commercial entity to unify golf (Reuters/File photo)

The US Senate on Monday opened an inquiry into the stunning deal last week that saw the PGA Tour and the Saudi-backed LIV Golf join together in a partnership after the two were previously embroiled in a multifront legal battle.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, opened the probe and demanded from the PGA and LIV Golf tours a range of documents and communications related to the agreement.

Blumenthal sent separate letters requesting the documents to PGA commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman, including any that relate to "PGA Tour’s tax-exempt status or eligibility".

In the letters, the senator demanded the documents be delivered by 26 June.

"PGA Tour’s agreement with PIF regarding LIV Golf raises concerns about the Saudi government’s role in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over a cherished American institution," Blumenthal said in the letters.

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The LIV Golf series is financed by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF) and critics have accused it of being a vehicle for the country to attempt to gloss over its reputation in the face of criticism of its human rights record.

Saudi-backed LIV and PGA Tour announce golf merger deal
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The announcement of the merger includes an agreement to end all pending litigation between the participating parties.

The rival LIV Golf circuit launched in 2022 and lured some big-name players away from the rival circuits with staggering sums of money.

Congress does not have the authority to simply block the agreement, and passing any legislation to stymie the deal would likely result in a legal battle.

And while the deal was met last week with shock and antitrust concerns, Congress has not shown vigorous interest in scrutinising the deal. The Biden administration has so far said the deal, which would see Saudi Arabia have a major stake in the future of golf, does not have any national security concerns.

The merger also prompted a cheerful statement on the Truth Social platform from former US President Donald Trump, who owns several golf courses. Trump said it was "a big, beautiful, and glamorous deal for the wonderful world of golf".

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