Unlike some of the other players who left LIV Golf, the 11 players who filed the lawsuit – Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein – did not lose their PGA Tour memberships, meaning they still hoped to play on both tours. But the PGA Tour did not allow them to play in LIV tournaments and it issued multiple years suspensions after they have done so.
The IS legal the PGA Tour alleges that golfers who sought to play in LIV tournaments were not only threatened, but that sponsors, vendors and agents “were at risk of forcing players to forego opportunities to play in LIV Golf events”; “they ordered an illegal per se group boycott of the European Tour to deny their members LIV Golf access”; and “lean on” groups that staged four major golf championships, forcing them to ban LIV golfers from competing in the sport’s highest-profile events.
“The Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to harm players and prevent the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” says the lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Northern District. California in Oakland.
Mickelson, one of the world’s most admired golfers and a six-time major winner, has long been a proponent of a separate organization, admitted to biography that he helped pay for attorneys to draft its operating rules. The lawsuit claims the PGA Tour suspended Mickelson for at least two months March 22 for, among other reasons, “attempting to recruit players” to participate in LIV Golf. (Mickelson’s last PGA Tour event was in late January, before news of his involvement with LIV broke.) He then denied his reinstatement request June 20, saying he violated PGA Tour rules by playing in a first tournament LIV Golf in London, and suspended it. until March 31, 2023. That suspension was extended to March 31, 2024, after Mickelson played in LIV’s second tournament in Oregonthe law insists.
“Mr. Mickelson’s unlawful two-year suspension from the PGA Tour has caused him irreparable professional, as well as financial and commercial harm,” the lawsuit states. Although Mickelson lost some sponsors after that he described human rights violations in Saudi Arabia prior to LIV’s launch, he also reportedly earned more than $100 million simply for joining the series, in which the 52-year-old played poorly over three events. He and the rest of the LIV golfers get paid no matter how badly they play because there are no cuts in LIV tournaments.
For the LIV players’ lawsuit to succeed, they would have to prove that they suffered actual injury and that the PGA Tour’s actions lessened competition in violation of federal law. Jacob S. Frenkel, chairman of government investigations and securities enforcement at the Washington law firm Dickinson Wright, said the Washington Post last week that it would not be easy enough to create damages “while compensating them in a way that could be more than the final compensation from the PGA Tour.”
“They made a personal decision to part ways with the PGA and join a competitive tour. They weren’t forced to do that,” Frenkel said. “As a PGA Tour participant, they have also agreed to certain standards, not just the standards of the organization but standards of personal conduct.”
PGA Tour golfers are required to obtain permission to play in non-sanctioned tournaments, and traditionally three such instances have been permitted each season (usually to play in events on the European tour, which have an operating agreement with the PGA Tour). Lawmakers argue that the tour “armed” this “Conflicting Events Rule” to prevent its golfers from playing in any unsanctioned tournament and that this system does not allow for “meaningful competition from other tours.”
The US Department of Justice is also investigating the PGA Tour for possible antitrust violations, according to the Wall Street Journalit is at least the second time federal officials have looked into tour deals. In the year 1994antitrust lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission tried to get the US government to overturn a rule requiring golfers to get permission to play in competing events – and another that said players would have to get permission to appear on programs television not sanctioned by the PGA Tour. — because they created possible “unfair means of competition”.
But after extensive lobbying by then-commissioner Tim Finchem – a former official in President Jimmy Carter’s administration – the FTC’s four commissioners voted unanimously to reject the team of antitrust attorneys taking legal action against the PGA Tour.
In the players’ lawsuit, three LIV golfers are seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow them to play in the season-ending FedEx Cup finals, a three-tournament tournament that begins next week with an event featuring the top 125 golfers. in positions throughout the season. Golfers accumulate points based on their performances over the entire season, and all three golfers – Gooch (No. 20 in the FedEx Cup standings), Jones (No. 62) and Swafford (No. 63) – would be eligible for the playoffs. next week. St. Jude Championship if they were not banned by the PGA Tour after playing in LIV Golf events.
In a memo to players sent Wednesday after the lawsuit was filed, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan called the three players’ attempt to gain entry into the FedEx Cup playoffs “an attempt to use the TOUR platform to place themselves to advance and redeem your benefits. and efforts.”
“Essentially, these suspended players – who are now employees of the Saudi Golf League – have left the TOUR and are now looking to return. With the Saudi Golf League on hiatus, they are trying to use lawyers to compete alongside our members well,” reads the memo, obtained by The Post.
There are two FedEx Cup standings pages on the PGA Tour website, one with LIV golfers still included and another with those golfers who were taken out and the players below them moved up. The latter will be used to determine the 125 golf course for next week’s opening play, without a judge’s order.
After the first playoff tournament, the top 70 in the FedEx Cup finals advance to the BMW Championship, and the top 30 after that event compete at the season-ending Tour Championship. The winner of that competition will receive $18 millionand golfers who finish the season high in the FedEx Cup points standings are generally allowed into the following year’s major championships.