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Stephen L. Carter

Golf Fans Will Be the Final Judge in the PGA-LIV Fight

 The game's aficionados, not antitrust lawsuits or the Justice Department, will determine whether PGA golfers can also take Saudi money.

A tricky situation.

A tricky situation.

Photographer: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The tiff between the Professional Golf Association and the upstart LIV Tour grew more intriguing this week, with the news that the Justice Department’s investigation of potential antitrust violations has widened to include the groups that conduct the Masters and the US Open, two of the four major golf tournaments. And you don’t have to be a serious golfer — I’m certainly not! — to wonder where all of this going.

The disagreement began when LIV, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, persuaded a number of top golfers, including Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, to sign lucrative contracts to play in its new tournament series. A large segment of the public responded with fury, due largely to the country’s human rights record. After a bit of back and forth, the PGA suspended the players who had signed with LIV, the players responded with antitrust lawsuits, and the federal government began looking into the whole thing.