Major sponsor urges PGA and DP World Tours to have peace talks with LIV Golf

PGA and DP World Tours urged to have peace talks with Saudi-funded LIV Golf by major sponsor - GETTY IMAGES
PGA and DP World Tours urged to have peace talks with Saudi-funded LIV Golf by major sponsor - GETTY IMAGES

Richemont, the multi-billion-dollar Swiss luxury goods maker, has become golf’s first major sponsor to demand that the PGA and DP World Tours stage talks with Saudi-funded LIV Golf to end the professional male game’s civil war.

As the chairman of the Sunshine Tour as well as Richemont and overlord of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – which takes place at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie this week – Johann Rupert is a highly influential figure who has put more than $100 million into the sport in a near 40-year association.

And the comments issued by Rupert’s media team to Telegraph Sport highlight the concern felt by South Africa’s richest individual – which are replicated across golf – at the ruinous effects of the ever more acrimonious split.

A tournament spokesperson said from the Old Course: “There needs to be a cessation of hostilities which are threatening the future of the game we all love. People need to talk to each other to find a solution.”

The prospects of negotiation appear further away than at any time since the Saudi sovereign wealth fund signified its intent to set up a circuit last year, with a $2 billion war chest. Jay Monahan, the PGA Tour commissioner, has consistently refused to entertain entering negotiations, while recently Greg Norman, the LIV chief executive, declared he no longer had “any interest” in a meeting.

Keith Pelley, the chief executive of the DP World Tour, is adamant he would only deal with LIV if it was prepared to act as a sponsor “within the sport’s eco-system” and not exist as a separate concern. Monahan has taken a hardline stance, issuing indefinite bans to LIV golfers and deeming them ineligible to play in last week’s Presidents Cup, even for the International side, which is believed to have riled Rupert.

Pelley must wait until a hearing in February before he can deliver sanctions and, in the meantime, the LIV golfers are free to play on the Europe circuits.

There are 10 LIV-contracted players teeing it up in the $5 million event – when pros such as Rory McIlroy and Matt Fitzpatrick share the fairways with celebrities including Joe Root and Ronan Keating.

Two of them, Patrick Reed and Peter Uihlein, received sponsor’s invitations, although the former pulled out on Monday. Insiders believe that Rupert was making a point with these invitations.

“There is a feeling among the players who are loyal to the Tour that LIV players should not be getting special invites,” one Tour player told Telegraph Sport, pointing out that Reed had initially missed the entry deadline.

Meanwhile, LIV has announced that their final event of the season has been reduced from four days to three days. The conclusion at Trump Doral in Miami at the end of October is an all-team affair, boasting a $50 million prize fund with $16 million being divided between the winning four-man side.

Originally, the last day was to feature only the two finalists but with a media-deal apparently imminent it has been decided to have four teams contesting on the Sunday, making it more of a showcase for whichever TV partner is announced. The first LIV events have been streamed on YouTube.