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Golf Saudi blocks Ladies European Tour merger with LPGA Tour



And noting that the LET would have struggled to survive through Covid without a joint venture agreed with the LPGA Tour in 2019, the R&A welcomed what had seemed an impending tying of the knot.

Yet at the 11th hour, the meeting was shockingly adjourned, with LET officials citing “additional information”. That vague reason inevitably caused confusion and no small measure of panic among the European pros.

They eventually received an explanation from LET head office earlier this month. Telegraph Sport has obtained a copy of the memo from LET chair Marta Figueras-Dotti.

Golf Saudi, had, at the last minute, “requested further further information on the proposed operating model of the Tour” after the merger. “Their noted interest was to ensure they fully understood any risks or implications as well as opportunities,” Figueras-Dotti wrote.

Golf Saudi’s demand was to undertake this review “before finalising their commitment to the events on the 2024  schedule”.

The LET memo insisted the relationship with Golf Saudi remains “constructive and collaborative” with the $5 million Aramco Saudi Ladies International taking place in Riyadh next month and the first of six $1m Aramco Team Series Presented by PIF being played at Florida in March.

But it has come at a cost, “The LET and LPGA boards have agreed to focus on maximising our joint venture rather than pursue the merger at this time,” the memo said. And to the LET pros, if not the women’s game at large, that is a huge setback.

“It’s funny because we all knew it [the adjournment] was connected to Golf Saudi and Aramco and the PIF, but we assumed they’d at least made some sort of offer for either us or the LPGA,” a leading LET player who wished to go unnamed, told Telegraph Sport.

“But 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.”

Golf Saudi and the LET have been approached for comment.

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