Women’s professional golf was set for what was being called a ‘landmark change.’ The LPGA Tour and the Ladies European Tour (LET) had agreed to merge, injecting life into women’s golf overseas.
That has all come to a sudden halt.
Golf Saudi, a division of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund that bankrolls LIV Golf, has essentially blocked the proposed merger between tours, according to The Telegraph.
The Saudi PIF threatened to pull their $11 million in sponsorship for the Euro circuit and abandon seven events.
LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan confirmed Golf Saudi as the reason for the cooling of talks in a letter to players.
The Saudi’s submitted a “last-minute request for further information on the proposed operating model of the tour following any potential transaction.” Samaan wrote. “As a significant partner of the LET, Golf Saudi wanted to ensure that they fully understood any risks, implications, and opportunities for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International and Aramco Team Series.”
Aramco is currently the largest sponsor of the Ladies European Tour. The threat of losing those sponsor dollars was too great to move forward with negotiations as the merger vote is “now postponed indefinitely.”
A leading Euro Tour player, preferring to remain anonymous, shared her thoughts and held nothing back.
“The reality is they obviously just threatened to pull all their events and money if the merger went ahead. So they blew the whole thing up just because they could. The one thing we don’t understand is why a LET/LPGA merger hurts whatever it is that PIF wants.
“Is it connected to the merger between them and the male Tours and PIF highlighting that it is in control? If it is, this is just another case of us, the little guys, being expendable as the billionaires play their power games.”
This could be a fatal blow to the floundering LET, as a deal with the LPGA was all but imminent. One of the greatest players of all time, Annika Sorenstam, called the pending union “beneficial to everyone.”
Sadly, the women’s game will hit a roadblock to growth thanks in large part to Golf Saudi. Should we really be surprised by that though?
Kendall Capps is the Senior Editor of SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social media platforms.