The canceled vote on a merger of the LPGA and Ladies European Tour? It was reportedly the result of what The Telegraph is calling a “thinly veiled threat” by Golf Saudi.
Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols first reported last week that LPGA commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan had informed her membership earlier this month via letter that the proposed merger had been suspended indefinitely. LET players, according to Nichols, were set to vote on the merger last November, but the LET “adjourned the meeting without explanation.”
Samaan’s letter revealed that Golf Saudi had, at the last minute, requested additional information on the deal that, among other details, would've seen LPGA cards awarded to the top four finishers on the LET points list at the end of each season, starting this year.
“As a significant partner of the LET,” Marcoux Samaan wrote, “Golf Saudi wanted to ensure that they fully understood any risks, implications, and opportunities for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International and Aramco Team Series before finalizing their commitment to the events in 2024.”
The Telegraph has now described the events on Nov. 21 as Golf Saudi “effectively blocking” the merger. Golf Saudi, a vehicle of the Public Investment Fund that also backs LIV Golf, currently funds seven LET events, all title-sponsored by Aramco, featuring a combined $11 million in prize money – or nearly a third of the European circuit’s purse total.
According to The Telegraph, LET chair Marta Figueras-Dotti also sent a letter to her members, saying Golf Saudi wanted “to ensure they fully understood any risks or implications as well as opportunities … before finalizing their commitment to the events on the 2024 [LET] schedule.”
Figueras-Dotti added: “The LET and LPGA boards have agreed to focus on maximizing our joint venture (started in 2019) rather than pursue the merger at this time.”