LIV Golf stars issue lawsuit against PGA Tour
The world of men’s professional golf just got deeper into controversy with eleven LIV Golf players reportedly filing an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
According to the Wall Street Journal, LIV Golf players headed by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Ian Poulter, and also including Abraham Ancer, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, Jason Kokrak, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Hudson Swafford and Peter Uihlein have joined the lawsuit.
Australia’s Matt Jones is seeking to return to the PGA Tour (Credit: PGA Tour)
“The [PGA] Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and foreclose the entry of the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” said the 105-page lawsuit.
“The Tour’s unlawful strategy has been both harmful to the players and successful in threatening LIV Golf’s otherwise-promising launch.”
“The Tour flexed its incumbent monopolistic power, including by enforcing its unlawful player restrictions that deny players the ability to sell their services to others, imposing lengthy suspensions on players for merely exercising their right as independent contractors to play in a competing promoter’s events, and ramping up its threats targeting Plaintiffs and others.”
The legal action follows the news of a memo signed by Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and sent to all players by the PGA Tour late on Tuesday (US time) confirming they were removing the names of all LIV players from the 2021/22 FedEx Cup points standing ahead of this week’s Wyndham Championship.
Commissioner Jay Monahan didn’t hold back in his admonishment of the rebel players.
“With just days until the start of our FedExCup Playoffs, 11 of your former colleagues have filed suit against the PGA Tour: Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, Jason Kokrak, Phil Mickelson, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford and Peter Uihlein seeking, amongst other things, to set aside their suspensions and permit them to play alongside you in PGA Tour events,” said Monahan in the memo .
“As part of that suit, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, and Hudson Swafford are seeking a temporary restraining order to play in the FedExCup Playoffs, despite knowing they would be ineligible for tournament play as early as June, and of course, the year’s worth of communication in advance of their decision to join the Saudi Golf League.”
“Fundamentally, these suspended players – who are now Saudi Golf League employees – have walked away from the Tour and now want back in. With the Saudi Golf League on hiatus, they’re trying to use lawyers to force their way into competition alongside our members in good standing.”
Similar action was launched by several DP World Tour players and resulted in a handful of LIV Golf stars being able to play in the recent Scottish Open while the matter was dealt with in the courts.
The matter could go either way this time. The PGA Tour will be very keen to make an example of those that defected to the Saudi-backed league but with just over a week to go before the start of the FedExCup Playoffs, time is not on their side.
Things could get frosty in the locker rooms very soon.