LOS ANGELES — LIV Golf League captain Dustin Johnson, like most professional golfers, doesn’t know exactly what the sport’s ecosystem will look like beyond this season.
But Johnson seems pretty sure about one thing: The LIV Golf League will be staging tournaments with 54 holes, shotgun starts and team competitions in 2024.
Johnson told ESPN on Wednesday that Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — which is financing the LIV Golf League — told him the circuit will remain in business through 2024, despite PIF’s new alliance with the PGA Tour and DP World Tour.
“Everything I’ve heard, they’re still working on a full schedule for next year,” Johnson said. “The rest of this year and 2024 is going to be the same as far as I know. After that, you know as much as I do.”
Bryson DeChambeau, captain of Crushers GC, said he spoke to Al-Rumayyan shortly before the deal was announced on CNBC on June 6. He also seemed confident the team-focused league would play beyond this season.
“That is what was talked about,” DeChambeau said. “Those are private conversations, and I don’t know exactly what his future plans are because he was right about to go on CNBC. I didn’t know what all was going on, but he said a couple of other cool ideas that I think could be interesting for the game of golf. But we’ll see if it all happens because you’ve still got to dial in all of the details. There’s a lot of unknowns.”
PGA Tour policy board member Jimmy Dunne told ESPN last week that PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan will oversee the PGA Tour and LIV Golf under the new agreement with PIF. Dunne said it would be Monahan’s decision whether LIV Golf exists in its current form beyond this season.
LIV Golf has seven tournaments left on its schedule this season, including the team championship in Saudi Arabia in early November.
Al-Rumayyan will serve as chairman of a new entity being formed by the circuits, which will combine their commercial businesses, including the LIV Golf League. PIF will make an initial investment in the new company and will have the first right of refusal to make additional investments, according to a news release announcing the deal.
Monahan announced on Tuesday night that he’s recovering from an undisclosed medical condition and is taking a leave of absence from his day-to-day duties. He will serve as CEO of the yet-to-be-named new enterprise. Monahan said he’ll fully evaluate LIV Golf’s place in the new ecosystem once its season ends in November.
DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open winner, said he believes the competing leagues will combine into one tour at some point in the future.
“I think it’ll eventually become like the AFL and NFL combining and then it just comes into one at some capacity,” DeChambeau said. “How that happens, I have no idea. I just know who has the first right of refusal and who’s the chairman.”
After last week’s stunning announcement, LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman told his league’s staff that LIV Golf was a stand-alone entity and would continue moving forward. DeChambeau said he has traded text messages with Norman over the past week.
“He seems spry and happy,” DeChambeau said. “He’s just like, ‘Keep your head down, buddy, and ignore what people are saying.'”
DeChambeau wouldn’t reveal details of the “cool” ideas that Al-Rumayyan shared with him for the future of men’s professional golf.
“I don’t want to speak for him, but he did tell me something that could be a bigger stage, global stage kind of thing,” DeChambeau said. “A big global event that could be really, really cool.”
The PGA Tour’s alliance with PIF and the DP World Tour is already facing scrutiny from federal lawmakers. On Wednesday, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon urged U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter to scrutinize the deal and take action if it violates antitrust laws.
It might be a while before details of the potential alliance are fully known.
“No one really knows what’s going to happen, so I can’t really say,” said Johnson, captain of 4Aces GC. “We just don’t know what it’s going to look like here. We’ll probably know some more in the next six months, but as of right now everything’s just going to stay the same. I’m just glad at some point we’re all going to come together and we’re not battling each other anymore.”
Dustin Johnson — PIF governor told me LIV Golf to play in 2024