clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What golfers said about LIV, Saudi Arabia, PGA TOUR prior to proposed merger

The two tours announced a Saudi-funded merger today. What have they had to say about each other in the past?

LIV Golf Invitational - DC - Day Two Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League, founded in 2021, announced that it would be merging with the nearly century-old PGA TOUR. The two leagues have had a highly contentious relationship over the past two years as golfers left the PGA TOUR with the lure of hefty paychecks, rumored to be up to nine figures for some golfers. The PGA TOUR, in turn, banned those who left for LIV from any future PGA TOUR events.

Now, the two are merging their commercial businesses and rights into a new entity funded by — guess who — the Saudi Public Investment Fund. Accused of sportswashing (the use of popular sports to erase human rights abuses) in the past by none other than PGA TOUR golfers and board members, the Saudi Arabians have apparently met the PGA’s price point and will now be the exclusive initial investor in the new merged entity.

In the past two years of heated rivalry, what have LIV and PGA TOUR golfers had to say about each other and Saudi Arabia? And will they refuse to accept this new merger?

What have golfers had to say?

“I think you’d have to be living under a rock to not know there are significant implications. Two families close to me lost loved ones [in 9/11]. I would ask any player who has left or a player who would ever consider leaving, ‘Have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA TOUR?’” -PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan, June 2022

“There’s no room in the golf world for LIV Golf. I don’t agree with what LIV is doing. If LIV went away tomorrow, I’d be super happy.” -Golfer Rory McIlroy, July 2022

“And as I also said to the players yesterday, let me be clear, I am not naive. If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in attempt to buy the game of golf. We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league is not that. It’s an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.” -PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan, June 2022

“They’re scary mother (expletives) to get involved with. We know they killed (reporter Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.” -Golfer Phil Mickelson, February 2022, prior to joining LIV

“I can’t wait to leave this tour.” -Golfer Sergio Garcia, May 2022, prior to joining LIV

“They’ve gone down their path and I think we have been pretty consistent that we’re going down ours, and I don’t see that happening. Haven’t, and I don’t.” -Commissioner Jay Monahan, September 2022, in response to Mickelson pushing for the leagues to coexist

“They shouldn’t be here, but again that’s just my opinion.” -Golfer Rory McIlroy, September 2022, in response to LIV golfers at BMW event

“I don’t need to answer that question.” -Golfers Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter, June 2022, when asked if they would play in a league in apartheid South Africa, a league funded by Vladimir Putin, or whether there was any moral basis that money could not supersede