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The DOJ notified the PGA about the pending investigation, making the possibility of the merger uncertain and likely extending the timeframe to finalize the deal, according to The Wall Street Journal. PGA and LIV Golf, two formerly warring factions, announced the decision to merge last week.
“There’s been a lot of tension in our sport over the last couple years,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said after the merger was announced. “What we’re talking about today is coming together to unify the game of golf, and to do so under one umbrella.”
“We’ve recognized that together we can have a far greater impact on this game than we can working apart,” he continued. “The game of golf is better for what we’ve done here today.”
The golf circuits were already under DOJ scrutiny over antitrust concerns before the agreement was publicly revealed.
The merger is still in its early stages, and very few details have been settled. Even without the Justice Department’s investigation, the agreement was at risk of falling through if the partners could not come to a consensus on the details.
For the past year, the Saudi-backed circuit poached top talent in the PGA for massive sums of money, reeling in athletes such as Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka. The PGA went on an aggressive media tour, repeatedly denouncing LIV Golf for its ties to Saudi Arabia.
“I recognize that people are going to call me a hypocrite. Anytime I said anything, I said it with the information that I had at that moment, and I said it based on someone that’s trying to compete for the PGA Tour and our players,” Monahan said. “I accept those criticisms. But circumstances do change.”
The merger announcement shocked many, with one of the most pointed criticisms coming from a charity for 9/11 victims’ families.
“Our entire 9/11 community has been betrayed by Commissioner Monahan and the PGA as it appears their concern for our loved ones was merely window-dressing in their quest for money,” 9/11 Families United Chair Terry Strada said.