Nobody can say with any certainty at this point what will happen to LIV Golf in light of the partnership between the PGA Tour, the DP World and the Public Investment Fund.
But while there have been no public statements from the Public Investment Fund or LIV Golf since the announcement on Tuesday, there has reportedly been communication from management with several captains of the LIV Golf teams, with an upbeat message.
Martin Kaymer, the two-time major champion who is one of 14 captains (one of the 12 teams has three co-captains) said he was called on the day of the announcement by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the governor of the PIF.
“Yassir rang me on Tuesday and said “we don’t know where this is going to go yet,’’ but congratulated me for making the right choice and trusting the whole product,’’ Kaymer told the Daily Telegraph. “And I’m very proud of myself that I did that. For PIF to come in now and buy the PGA Tour, support the PGA Tour, surprised everyone I guess.’’
Sports Illustrated confirmed that Dustin Johnson, another team captain, was contacted by someone with LIV Golf and given assurances. A source told SI that leadership has told all involved that plans continue for the rest of this season and the 2024 schedule, although there have been no official announcements.
The PIF has not bought the PGA Tour but rather entered into an agreement to part with it and the DP World Tour. Details are scarce. As part of the deal, a new for-profit entity apart from the PGA Tour is to be formed, with Al-Rumayyan as chairman and PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan serving as CEO.
Monahan said as part of the announcement and during a Tuesday news conference that he and his team will study LIV and put forth a “good faith’’ effort to see how the team aspect of LIV might fit in to future plans.
He also said he did not “see a scenario’’ where LIV Golf existed in its current format alongside the PGA Tour next year.
Jimmy Dunne, a PGA Tour Policy Board member who helped made the initial contact with Al-Rumayyan to begin talking about a deal, told SI on Thursday that Monahan after studying it at the end of this year would have discretion as to how it will look going forward.
That is in conflict with what LIV Golf commissioner Greg Norman – who was not part of the agreement meetings – told the LIV staff on Wednesday.
“The spigot is now wide open for commercial sponsorships, blue chip companies, TV networks,’’ Norman said according to a person on the call who wished not to be identified.
“LIV is and will continue to be a standalone enterprise. Our business model will not change. We changed history and we’re not going anywhere.’’
The disconnect between the two sides on the LIV Golf issue has only been heightened due to little communication. Beyond the captains, few if any players have been directly contacted as of Saturday afternoon. And other than the Norman conference call, the LIV staff has heard nothing other to fulfill duties related to the schedule this year.
Kaymer, 38, who won the 2010 PGA Championship, along with the 2014 Players Championship and 2014 U.S. Open, is from Germany and among the first players to sign with LIV Golf before its launch a year ago this week.
For a good part of last year and this year, he’s been dealing with a wrist injury that required surgery and kept him from missing several tournaments. He withdrew from the PGA Championship last month but is expected to play this week at Los Angeles Country Club in the U.S. Open.
In the Telegraph interview, Kaymer took issue with PGA Tour players who were critical of the deal Monahan and the board members made with the PIF.
“I’m really looking forward now to the reaction of all the people who said “we don’t want to play for blood money. .. we don’t want to sell our soul,’’’ Kaymer said. “Well, now they need to move to Japan (and play on the Japan Golf Tour) in order to stay true to their word.’’
Kaymer admitted to the Telegraph he struggled with the decision himself.
“I think you just need to follow your intuition and what you believe,’’ he said. “I stood up to my values and stood up to the feeling my heart. I was brave enough and stood up for myself to a lot of people, also here in Germany who criticized me and gave me s—. Funny enough, they have send me nice messages (since the announcement). It’s such a hypocritical world that we live in. So it’s even more important to make your own decisions. Don’t judge too much because when all is said and done, you might do the same thing.’’