HomeGolfGolf Saudi blocks merger between LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour

Golf Saudi blocks merger between LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour

Golf Saudi blocks merger between LPGA Tour and Ladies European Tour

Efforts to merge the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and the Ladies European Tour (LET) have hit a roadblock following intervention from Golf Saudi, according to recent reports.

The proposed merger, initially announced in 2019, aimed to create a joint venture between the two women’s golf circuits. The merger was slated for formal approval last November, with plans for both tours to continue operating independently while co-sanctioning seven events annually, totalling a combined purse of US$11 million. The LPGA was tasked with exploring enhanced commercial opportunities on behalf of both organisations.

However, the vote to approve the merger was abruptly postponed just before it was scheduled to take place, citing the Ladies European Tour’s receipt of “additional information” ahead of the meeting.

According to a memo sent to LPGA members by commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan, Golf Saudi raised concerns and requested a thorough analysis of the merger’s terms. As a significant partner of the LET, Golf Saudi sought clarity on the risks, implications and opportunities associated with events like the Aramco Saudi Ladies International and Aramco Team Series, slated for 2024. Consequently, the LET Board opted to pause the vote, a decision supported by the LPGA Board.

Marta Figueras-Dotti, chair of the LET, echoed similar sentiments in a memo, indicating Golf Saudi’s interest in reviewing the proposed joint venture before confirming its commitment to events on the 2024 schedule.

Golf Saudi’s involvement stems from its agreement with Saudi state oil company Aramco, a major sponsor of the LET, contributing significantly to the tour’s season prize pot. Golf Saudi, managed by the Gulf nation’s influential Public Investment Fund (PIF), shares ties with the LIV Golf circuit and is chaired by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, a key figure in negotiations involving LIV Golf, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

Despite the setback, both Marcoux Samaan and Figueras-Dotti described their interactions with Golf Saudi as “constructive” in their respective memos. The fate of the merger remains uncertain, with both tours expressing commitment to maximising the potential of the proposed joint venture.

Marcoux Samaan reiterated the tours’ dedication to elevating women’s golf globally, ensuring clear pathways and opportunities for athletes from around the world.

Image credit: Keith Allison

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