Eleven golfers associated with the breakaway LIV Golf series have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, challenging its suspension and other restrictive measures used to punish those who signed up to play in Saudi Arabia-backed LIV tournaments.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that the PGA Tour unfairly controls players through anti-competitive restrictions to protect its long-standing professional golf monopoly.
The complaint, filed on behalf of Phil Mickelson and others, alleges that the tour “risked harm” to their careers and livelihoods. “The Tour’s illegal strategy harmed players and successfully jeopardized the promising launch of LIV Golf,” the post reads.
Some players, including Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones, have also sought permission to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs, the final championships of the PGA Tour.
“The penalty that will be imposed on these players for not being able to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs is substantial and irreparable, and a temporary restraining order is needed to prevent the irreparable harm that could be caused if they won’t be able to participate.” the complaint says.
LIV golf course funded by the sovereign wealth fund Saudi Arabia, which is under the control of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, and became lightning rod for human rights activists who accuses Saudi Arabia of using sport to launder its reputation.
It also caused a stir among professional golfers for turning the sport itself around. The series poached several high-profile players from the PGA Tour with gigantic upfront fees and entry fees. Mickelson, a six-time major tournament winner, reportedly received $200 million.
Tiger Woods, who sharply criticized the LIV format and PGA Tour defectors stating that they “turned their backs on what got them into the position”, turned down an offer to join the LIV worth about $700 million, according to Greg Norman, a former golf champion who is the chief executive of the LIV.
Michael Levenson made a report.