US Senate panel invites PGA Tour commissioner, LIV CEO to testify on merger

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate panel on Wednesday invited PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman to testify at a July 11 hearing.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who chairs the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, and the panel’s top Republican Ron Johnson invited them to appear.

“Our goal is to uncover the facts about what went into the PGA Tour’s deal with the Saudi Public Investment Fund and what the Saudi takeover means for the future of this cherished American institution and our national interest,” said Blumenthal. “Americans deserve to know what the structure and governance of this new entity will be.”

Blumenthal earlier this month asked the PGA Tour and LIV Golf for communications and records on their planned merger as part of an investigation, citing concerns about the Saudi government’s role in the deal and risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over the sport.

Last week, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden asked the Justice Department to open an antitrust investigation into the planned deal between the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf, saying they believe it would result in a monopoly over professional golf operations.

The Justice department has been investigating the PGA Tour for trying to keep its players from defecting to LIV.

The PGA Tour, DP World Tour and rival Saudi-backed LIV circuit, which had been involved in a bitter fight that split the sport, announced an agreement to merge and form one unified commercial entity.

The LIV Golf series is bankrolled by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIV). Critics have accused it of being a vehicle for the country to improve its reputation as it faces criticism of its human rights record.

The PGA Tour and LIV did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

Much of the backlash against PIV and LIV Golf centers around the alleged involvement of the Saudi Arabian government in human rights violations, including the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Mark Porter and Bill Berkrot)