PGA Tour pressure piled on as key sponsor sends clear message over LIV Golf

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf are still in negotiations to merge.

One significant sponsor has called for action to “stabilize professional golf,” and the PGA Tour is facing mounting pressure to resolve its dispute with LIV Golf.

Chief marketing officer Mary DePaoli of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) acknowledged that the organization is needing to be very “patient” while talks about a possible merger with the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is LIV Golf’s backer, are still ongoing.

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and PIF announced almost a year ago that they had reached a preliminary agreement for a merger. This would bring the game back together following the launch of the breakaway LIV Golf in 2022, which drew in a number of elite PGA Tour players. Though many deadlines have been missed, the deal’s finer details have not yet been finalized, indicating a slow pace of progress.

Since then, the second-ranked player in the world, Rory McIlroy, has gone back to the negotiating table. He has teamed up with Adam Scott and Tiger Woods on a subcommittee that is trying to get an investment deal with PIF. DePaoli said that RBC is emphasizing a speedy resolution and expressed the frustration of fans who are sick of the political and financial controversies that have dominated professional golf for the last two years.

In advance of the Canadian Open later this month, DePaoli stated during a media day, “I think we’re probably all feeling the same.” “This is something that all of us are going through, whether we are the players, sponsors, or fans. Right now, all of us are watching the PGA Tour attempt to sort through a business model that has been severely strained and hasn’t entirely stabilized. And that is yet to be ascertained. Thus, a great deal of patience is needed.

“For us, it will be crucial that the Tour stabilizes professional men’s golf. I’ve used the analogy that it’s as if they’re simultaneously building and flying the plane. Most likely, it won’t be too far off.

“But I think they can get professional men’s golf back on track and growing in a very positive direction again if some of these outstanding questions can resolve themselves in the short or medium term and we can start to put some of the static and you know kind of changes that a lot of people were not too pleased with behind us.”

Leading into the third round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Saturday, McIlroy, who is currently ranked second, disclosed that he participated in a long Zoom call last weekend with Woods, Scott, and the tour executives, during which the PIF negotiations were discussed. His failed attempt to re-join the PGA Tour Policy Board this week led to his appointment to the committee.

In order to focus on his game and personal life, McIlroy had previously resigned from the policy board in November. However, he was willing to rejoin when Webb Simpson offered to give up his seat last month so that McIlroy could lead talks with PIF.

But given McIlroy’s recent resignation, Golf Digest claims that player directors Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, and Woods were against his comeback.

But it’s obvious that RBC is growing frustrated with the state of affairs and wants the PIF talks to end as soon as possible, regardless of the parties involved.

“Partners go through things sometimes,” DePaoli continued. “You have to weather it for as long as you can to see them hopefully get through whatever it is they’re going through.” Currently, I believe golf may be in a transitional period, distinct from many other professional sports. Things are changing for the better. A lot of other leagues and teams have gone through a lot of that over the course of their history.”

“So, we’re hoping that this rectifies itself soon,” she said. We’re hoping that they can unite the sport in a way that is healthy and advantageous to the players, sponsors, and fans alike. We’re happy if the fans are happy. We’re happy if the players are happy. However, there is still some movement there as of right now.

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