They must be sick! How stunned PGA loyalists turned down MILLIONS to snub controversial LIV Golf breakaway, with Tiger Woods rejecting almost £700m and Rory McIlroy declining £400m
- PGA Tour is merging with bitter rival LIV Golf in a shocking development
- A host of players opted to snub the divisive Saudi-backed breakaway tour
- However, they are now likely infuriated with their public criticism in vain
News of the PGA Tour’s bombshell merger with bitter rival LIV Golf has left a host of loyal players stunned, particularly after many rejected lucrative paydays ranging in the tens and hundreds of millions to snub the Saudi-backed breakaway series.
The deal will end the acrimonious split in the sport and pending litigation between the two tours will be stopped. They will now proceed as part of the same enterprise.
PGA commissioner Jay Monahan hailed a ‘momentous day’ for the game in a letter to Tour members, although countless players were caught off guard by the news.
The sudden emergence of the LIV circuit divided professional golf, with several big names having accepted staggering contracts and taken up significant prize funds.
It has proven controversial, however, due to its association with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund and the fact it was embroiled in lawsuits with the PGA Tour.
Ultimately, household names such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy opted to remain on the PGA Tour, even in spite of the eye-watering packages tabled by LIV.
Tiger Woods turned down a staggering offer to join the controversial LIV Golf circuit
In a shock development, the PGA Tour and its rival will merge (above: LIV CEO Greg Norman)
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote a memo to members on Tuesday (pictured)
Now, though, they have been left red-faced and likely infuriated, having publicly rallied against the breakaway and its numerous defectors to no avail.
Woods, the 15-time major winner, last year turned down between $700-$800m (£575m-£650m), according to LIV chief executive Greg Norman.
‘Look, Tiger is a needle mover, right? So, of course you’re got to look at the best of the best,’ Norman told Tucker Carlson. ‘They had originally approached Tiger before I became CEO. That number is somewhere in that neighborhood.’
McIlroy was also unsurprisingly approached by the circuit but, like Woods, rejected an offer reported to have been worth around $500m (£402m).
Lucrative deals were tabled for other PGA members and some were also snubbed.
Indeed, Jon Rahm is said to have waved away $400m (£321m), while Will Zalatoris was initially offered $35m (£28m) and then an improved $130m (£104m) package.
Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Cameron Young and Justin Thomas were among those to turn down LIV Golf’s advances, although their respective offers were not disclosed.
But despite the storm surrounding the breakaway, a number of players did sign up.
A package worth between £575m-£650m was tabled for Woods, who opted to turn it down
Rory McIlroy was the subject of a £402m proposal but chose to stay loyal to the PGA Tour
LIV Golf players pictured ahead of their second season start in Mayakoba, Mexico in February
LIV GOLF TIMELINE
- June 9, 2022: LIV Golf held its inaugural event in England, prompting the PGA Tour to suspend all members who competed in the rival event.
- August of 2022: Phil Mickelson and 10 other LIV Golfers filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in response to their suspensions. The plaintiffs accused the PGA of using an unlawful monopoly to stifle trade.
- October of 2022: The PGA files its countersuit against the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which funds LIV Golf. PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan is named in the lawsuit.
- January of 2023: The PGA files a motion, claiming the PIF interfered with its contracts by luring players to join the upstart league.
- June of 2023: LIV Golf and the PGA Tour decide to merge, bringing an end to their competing lawsuits.
Phil Mickelson accepted $200m (£160m) with open arms and Dustin Johnson earned a $150m (£120m) payday, showcasing the LIV project’s financial muscle.
Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka were all paid $100m.
Elsewhere, Bubba Watson took up a $50m (£40m) figure, with Sergio Garcia banking $40m (£32m) and Ian Poulter earning a number between $20m-$30m (£16m-£24m).
The likes of Patrick Reed, Paul Casey, Kevin Na and Louis Oosthuizen also chose to pivot across from the PGA Tour despite the ramifications they quickly faced.
LIV Golf has been criticised for its PIF ties, with critics accusing the kingdom of ‘sportswashing’ its human rights record.
It is heavily funded by the sovereign-wealth fund, which has committed at least $2billion to the circuit since its inception.
Defectors, meanwhile, were pilloried over allegations of greed.
The fate of the players who moved from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf remains unclear. Some may be required to pay a fine, according to Daniel Rapaport.
Phil Mickelson accepted £160m to join the divisive Saudi-backed breakaway, however
Dustin Johnson also pocketed £120m, with LIV Golf able to flex its sheer financial muscle
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