In an interview last week with Golf Channel’s Anna Jackson, LPGA Commissioner Mollie Marcoux Samaan didn’t offer many details as to why a planned vote in November by the Ladies European Tour to merge with the LPGA was postponed. The postponement served up a dose of déjà vu. The vote to merge was expected to happen in late 2022 and never materialized.

On Wednesday, what many suspected as the reason for the delay was confirmed. Prior to the vote, Golf Saudi, the LET’s most important partner, asked for more information on the proposal. In a letter written to LPGA players by Marcoux Samaan in early January and obtained by Golfweek’s Beth Ann Nichols, Marcoux Samaan explained that, “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.”

With the vote already postponed once and terms of the deal unlikely to have changed drastically, the timing of the last minute request from Golf Saudi certainly raises eyebrows. Additionally, it seems Marcoux Samaan has warmed up to the Saudis involvement in women’s golf. When asked about a potential PIF and LPGA partnership in her Golf Channel interview, Marcoux Samaan didn’t bring up any concerns about tying her league to a regime riddled with human rights violations, but said that any partnership must promote the LPGA’s mission of being the global leader in the sport. She also wrote in her letter to players that discussions about the merger with Golf Saudi remain “constructive and collaborative”.

The potential merger between the two leagues was always going to force Marcoux Samaan to address the issue of Saudi involvement in the game. Her interview and letter to players make it seem like there are no qualms among decision makers about the moral and ethical concerns of such a partnership. Combine that with the PGA Tour and the PIF’s truce, and Marcoux Samaan doesn’t have to worry about ruffling feathers with her strategic partners in Ponte Vedra by pursuing a merger with the LET, where the PIF serves as puppet master. What was hush hush before is now out in the open, and it appears the groundwork for a Golf Saudi partnership is being laid.

This piece originally appeared in the Fried Egg Golf newsletter. Subscribe for free and receive golf news and insight every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.