PGA Tour, PIF remove clause from agreement about stealing players
One of the few provisions in the framework agreement the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) agreed to last month has been removed after a review by the Department of Justice.
First reported by The New York Times and confirmed by GolfChannel.com, the Justice Department reviewed the deal and informed the Tour and the PIF that the promise not to recruit each other’s players was concerning. The DOJ began a review of the ongoing divide between the Tour and LIV Golf, which is owned by the PIF, last year because of antitrust concerns.
The nonsolicitation clause stipulated that the Tour and LIV Golf would not “enter into any contract, agreement or understanding with” any “players who are members of the other’s tour or organization.” Even though the Tour’s advisors felt the clause didn’t violate any antitrust norms, the decision was made to remove it from the deal.
The divide began last year when LIV Golf paid multi-million dollar guarantees to high-profile Tour players – including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau – to join the breakaway circuit. The framework agreement appeared to put an end to that exodus, with the stipulation that the Tour and LIV would not “solicit” or “recruit” players away from each other.
The agreement, which was announced on June 6, also ended the ongoing litigation between the Tour, LIV Golf and the PIF with prejudice, which means the claims cannot be resubmitted, and stipulates that the Tour and DP World Tour circuit provide a path back for players who left to join LIV Golf if a definitive deal can be reached.
Tour officials were also questioned on Tuesday during a hearing in Washington, D.C., over the deal.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was particularly concerned over a nondisparagement clause in the framework agreement, but most experts agree these types of stipulations don’t normally concern the Justice Department.