Merger Day


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

Remember that episode of The Office titled “Merger Day”? The PGA and LIV have been at odds for the last two years. Now, they’re “unifying” golf. Love it or hate it, it’s happening.

Cue Dwight Schrute to Jim Halpert — Do you want to form an alliance?

 Today’s Underdog

Udonis Haslem’s Impact on Heat Culture (bottom of edition)

Letter Rip!


Merger Day

Photo: Chris Trotman / Getty Images

PGA Tour, LIV Golf & DP World Tour Announce Merger to ‘Unify’ Game of Golf

The band is back together, but they won’t be getting along anytime soon. Love it or hate it, golf has a solution to the two-year feud between the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf. That solution is messy, complicated, and a bit confusing. Can we make sense of it all? No. But we’ll try…

After LIV Golf emerged out of nowhere more than 18 months ago and essentially tried to buy golf’s biggest names for a team-style, international format, chaos ensued. The two leagues hammered each other with antitrust lawsuits as a blistering split turned into a war for the rights of golf. After all the fake pleasantries with hatred boiling under the surface, concluding with Brooks Koepka (LIV) winning the PGA Championship (ironic), the leagues agreed to merge on Tuesday. The merger has some golf fans excited to see the two sides come together and put the noise in the past, but the majority aren’t buying it. How do the players feel? Umm… a little peeved. Let’s unpack.

What The Merger Means

Both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf signed an agreement that would combine commercial rights into a new company. That company — or “league” — has yet to be named. The agreement also includes the DP World Tour (European Tour). It essentially “unifies the game of golf,” but does it? The sentiment that each league would be better off together is one many fans can get behind — as we should all apply to our daily lives, not just sports — but it’s not that simple. A merger doesn’t change the memory of the past two years when LIV poached dozens of the PGA’s top players for ludicrous salaries in an attempt to buy the game. They made villains of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and more. Nor does it soften the criticisms over the league funded by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Things Are Awkward

Koepka’s win at the PGA Championship in May made everything tenser as PGA officials posed for pictures and handed over the Wannamaker Trophy to one of the biggest names who left for LIV. Now, all of those LIV golfers who defected from the PGA Tour and made enemies will be right back alongside each other in the near future. And the Saudi-backed LIV group — with all their sponsors and new rules that challenge golf purists — are seemingly now part of the new era of the PGA. Many of the top LIV players raked in a huge sum of cash to join the venture, only to keep it and return to the league they spurned. PGA commissioner Jay Monahan claimed that wouldn’t happen just a few months ago. It did anyway.

Top LIV Signing Bonuses

Brooks Koepka: $100 Million

Bryson DeChambeau: $125 Million

Dustin Johnson: $150 Million

Phil Mickelson: $200 Million

*LIV Offered Tiger Woods Over $700 Million

Player Reactions & PGA Meeting

As expected, PGA players feel slighted while LIV golfers just bankrolled, sent their message of displeasure to the PGA Tour, and still get to compete in every major under the umbrella of a new league. Commissioner Monahan spoke to the players on Tuesday afternoon in a closed meeting before this weekend’s RBC Heritage Open. Reports from the meeting included phrases like “s—show” and “comedy special” while one report claimed it was a 90/10 split between negative and positive reactions, respectively — 90 percent negative. Players even applauded when someone called for new leadership. Here are some of the reactions on Twitter.

“I love finding out morning news on Twitter” — Collin Morikawa

“Nothing like finding out through Twitter that we’re merging with a tour that we said we’d never do that with.” — Mackenzie Hughes

“I’ve grown up being a fan of the 4 Aces. Maybe one day I get to play for them on the PGA Tour!” — (Sarcastic) Joel Dahmen

“Awesome day today “ — Phil Mickelson

What Happens Next?

There’s still much to be revealed. What does the new unified league look like? How will it operate? How will PGA players who stood firm against LIV suddenly welcome their new league sponsors and biggest partners? One thing we do know is golf just got even more edgy…

The golf wars may have come to a ceasefire, but you can’t expect the soldiers to suddenly hold hands. 

Read More ‘The Hell is Going On?’ Players, Fans & Others React to PGA-LIV Merger

SI: In One Stunning & Silent Move, Jay Monahan Brings In Billions & Kills LIV Golf

USA Today: PGA Tour Sold Out to LIV Golf & The Saudis. Pro Golf Will Never be the Same



French Open: Djokovic-Alcaraz Inevitable

Photo: Lionel Hahn / Getty Images

Men’s Draw: #1 Carlos Alcaraz & #3 Novak Djokovic Advance to Set Up Semifinal Clash

The French Open quarterfinals saw the favorites advance on Tuesday at Roland-Garros. Novak Djokovic rallied after losing his first set and Carlos Alcaraz put Stefanos Tsitsipas to rest in straight sets. Both of the favorites in the men’s draw will now meet in the semifinals, and it’s Alcaraz’s turn to try and knock off the Djoker. Only four men have claimed the clay-court crown in the past 18 years — Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, and Djokovic. The pair of superstars have only met once before, and Alcaraz beat the Djoker on clay (Madrid, 2022). A realistic look at the present and future coming up in the semis.

Men’s Singles Highlights (Quarterfinals)

#1 C. Alcaraz def. #5 S. Tsitsipas (6-2, 6-1, 7-6)

#3 N. Djokovic def. #11 K. Khachanov (4-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-4)

Today’s Schedule (Men’s QFs)

#22 A. Zverev vs. T. Etcheverry (9:00 am ET)

#4 C. Ruud vs. #6 H. Rune (2:15 pm ET)

Women’s Draw: Ukrainian Elina Svitolina Snubs Belarusian #2 Aryna Sabalenka After Loss

In the women’s quarterfinals, one major storyline from Tuesday was the national backgrounds of one particular match. Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina was riding a must-see Cinderella story in this French Open, but tensions at homemade post-match pleasantries were unwanted. Svitolina was booed for not shaking hands with Russian Daria Kasatkina after her fourth-round victory. She was booed again after doing the same to Belarusian #2 Aryna Sabalenka following Svitolina’s loss in the quarterfinals. The Ukrainian star had previously stated that she wouldn’t shake hands with players from Russia or Belarus due to ongoing conflict between the countries. Regardless, Sabalenka is moving on and Svitolina is going home.

Women’s Singles Highlights (Quarterfinals)

#2 A. Sabalenka def. E. Svitolina (6-4, 6-4)

K. Muchova def. A. Pavlyuchenkova (7-5, 6-2)

Today’s Schedule (Women’s QFs)

#7 O. Jabeur vs. #14 B. Haddad Maia (5:00 am ET)

#1 I. Swiatek vs. #6 C. Gauff (6:30 am ET)

Read More

ESPN: Svitolina Says Sabalenka Made Handshake Snub Worse Than Necessary

NBC Sports: Novak Djokovic & Carlos Alcaraz Set French Open Semifinal Showdown




Reds’ Prospect Elly De La Cruz Called Up, Gets Double in 2nd At-Bat

Giolito Flirts With No-Hitter as White Sox Beat Yankees

Arraez Goes 2-for-4 in Marlins’ 6-1 Win Over Royals, Now Batting .401


Aces Stay Unbeaten (7-0) With Win Over Sun (90-84)

Sky Top Fever in Overtime Thriller (10-8-103, OT)





Today’s Must-Watch List

NBA Finals

Gm 3: Nuggets at Heat (8:30 pm ET)

Series Tied (1-1)

French Open (Quarterfinals)

M: #22 A. Zverev vs. T. Etcheverry (9:00 am ET)

M: #4 C. Ruud vs. #6 H. Rune (2:15 pm ET)

W: #7 O. Jabeur vs. #14 B. Haddad Maia (5:00 am ET)

W: #1 I. Swiatek vs. #6 C. Gauff (6:30 am ET)


Mariners at Padres (4:10 pm ET)

Mets at Braves (7:20 pm ET)

Cardinals at Rangers (8:05 pm ET)


Mercury at Wings (8:00 pm ET)

Download The Sportsletter’s Must-Watch Calendar



Florida Man Loves Finals

Photo: Michael Reaves / Getty Images

How Udonis Haslem & ‘Heat Culture’ Keep Ending Up in the NBA Finals (By Marissa Kasch)

The Miami Heat have faced their fair share of doubt this season. They lost the opening-round play-in game before securing the 8-seed in the playoffs, but they proved skeptics wrong by beating the Bucks, Knicks, and Celtics to reach the Finals. The analytics said they had less than a 5-percent chance to beat Milwaukee, less than a 3-percent chance to beat Boston, and less than a 1 percent to beat all three. Yet, here they are. The Heat are still the underdogs that they have been all postseason, but that title has seemed to work in their favor. One veteran Heat player knows this franchise never stops fighting.

Udonis Haslem has been through almost every era of the Heat franchise and has seen it all. And though you likely won’t see him on the court, he remains the leader and voice of Miami’s mentality. Haslem is tied with LeBron James for active players who have played the most seasons in the NBA (20), so he’s as wise as they come. 

‘Florida Man’ Seeks 4th Title

We’ve all seen the infamous “Florida Man” headlines, but Udonis Haslem may be the literal version of the Internet phenomenon. He grew up in Miami before making the trek to Gainesville to play for the Florida Gators. There, he became the first player in program history to play on four consecutive NCAA tournament teams. He also helped earn the Gators’ 97 wins, making him the player with the most wins in school history. 

After his time at Florida, Haslem went undrafted (like much of the current Heat roster). He moved back to Miami and made his debut with the Heat in 2003. At the end of a 20-year career, Haslem is known to be one of the NBA’s best championship-winning role players. 

Haslem’s Eras Tour

Haslem knows the Heat all too well. In Miami, he never goes out of style, and he has a reputation. Like Taylor Swift, he has his own eras within the Heat’s history, each one just as special as the last. Don’t worry though, NBA Finals tickets are still cheaper than Taylor Swift tickets. 

Rookie  1st Championship

In his rookie season (2003), Haslem played with Dwyane Wade (also a rookie) and Lamar Odom. The next season, Miami added another elite player: Shaquille O’Neal. Wade and Shaq formed the superstar duo that led the first Miami Heat championship (2006), and Haslem played a key role. Even though he averaged just over 6 points and 6 rebounds per game, he had a 17-and-10 double-double in the Game 6 closeout of the Finals.

Superteam Era  2nd & 3rd Championships

Haslem’s biggest nod from teammates came in 2010 when LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade all took less than their maximums so he could remain a part of the Heat. That should tell you something about how vital Haslem is to the organization’s success. It was the same era that the Heat went to the Finals four times in four years. They won two rings.

Jimmy Buckets Era

For the last four years, Haslem has played in Miami’s Jimmy Butler era. As we all know, the Butler years have been nothing short of spectacular as the Heat have been to the playoffs every year since he signed in 2019. They reached the Finals in 2020 (bubble) before losing to the Lakers. And now, they’re back.

Haslem credited the superstars he has played alongside. He attributes his success as a role player to those he played with, knowing only team over self. If his story tells us anything, it’s that you don’t need to be a superstar to leave your mark on a franchise, and the length of a career isn’t dependent on talent, but heart. 

Heat Culture

Haslem takes pride in teaching teammates “Heat Culture.” And who better to teach them than the man who has played more than half of the seasons since the franchise began (1988)? He played alongside some of the most talented players in NBA history and made the playoffs in 16 of his 20 seasons. Not to mention that this is his seventh NBA Finals appearance and potentially his fourth ring. 

According to Haslem, Heat Culture is discipline, accountability, work ethic, and enjoying somebody else’s success. He says there are no days off. More importantly, there is no offseason. To Haslem, Heat Culture is a lifestyle. 

And though he doesn’t get much playing time at age 42, he remains a crucial part of Miami’s success. His wisdom from 20 years in the league and continuation of Heat Culture are what make him an invaluable leader to the team.

The hometown hero. The fan favorite. The player-coach. The Heat culture curator. This Florida man just loves Finals.