A key provision that neither the PGA Tour nor LIV Golf would recruit players from the other circuit as officials from the tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund attempted to create a new for-profit entity has been scrapped, according to a report yesterday in the New York Times.

One of the few details outlined in the framework agreement signed by the PGA Tour and the PIF (the financial backers of LIV) stated that neither side would “enter into any contract, agreement or understanding with” any “players who are members of the other’s tour or organisation”. The thought was that this would allow the two sides to work out a deal without the spectre of players potentially jumping from the tour to LIV inhibiting the negotiations.

However, after a review of the framework agreement by US Justice Department officials, concerns over the antitrust implications of that provision – and the potential for the DOJ to use it as reason to block a deal – caused the two sides to remove it.

The Times quoted William E. Kovacic, a former Federal Trade Commission chairman, as stating that the language of the provision appeared “to be right in the field of vision that the Department of Justice has staked out for its no-poaching enforcement program”.

The PGA Tour had not responded to Golf Digest for comment about the New York Times story. According to the report, the PGA Tour informed its PGA Tour Policy Board members of the decision on Thursday.

RELATED: Rory McIlroy’s latest swipe at LIV Golf: ‘If [it] was the last place to play golf on earth, I would retire’

The immediate implications of this reversal are unclear. The LIV Golf circuit had seemed to have its set roster of players already for 2023. However, if LIV officials think that a deal won’t be reached with the PGA Tour to create the joint entity (along with the DP World Tour), they could potentially begin to reach out to top PGA Tour players about competing on LIV teams in 2024 and beyond. In the process, they could once again offer seven and eight-figure contracts to current PGA Tour players much the same way they managed to sign major champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed.

This possibility is a concern that Jimmy Dunne, a member of the PGA Tour Policy Board, spoke about when testifying during a US Senate hearing about the PGA Tour–PIF deal on Tuesday.

“My fear is if we don’t get to an agreement, they [the PIF] were already putting billions of dollars into golf,” Dunne said. “They have a management team wanting to destroy the tour. Even though you can say take five or six players a year, they have an unlimited horizon and an unlimited amount of money.”