SIX BOMBSHELL REVELATIONS FROM THE LIV GOLF LAWSUIT AGAINST THE PGA TOUR
1. THE COURTROOM DRAMA IS SET FOR JANUARY 8 ... 2024
Jon Rahm says he’s been watching Suits recently, which should adequately prepare him for what’s about to unfold now LIV Golf have joined the anti-trust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. Four players have removed their names from the original suit, though it still includes a group of seven Saudi defectors, headlined by Phil Mickelson and Bryson Dechambeau. The others are Ian Poulter, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, Hudson Swafford and Peter Uihlein. In the amended complaint, the PGA Tour are accused of unfairly suspending players and using monopoly power to try to squash competition. LIV Golf also claim the PGA Tour forced them to delay their launch for 2022 and to implement a smaller schedule than originally intended. The trial date for the lawsuit has been set for January 8, 2024, with a summary judgment hearing on July 23 next year. The two sides could settle out of court at any point – but they need to start talking first!
2. PHIL MICKELSON WAS INDEED SUSPENDED
Mickelson took four months off in March, but it wasn’t entirely his choice. We now know he was suspended by the PGA Tour for two months for ‘attempting to recruit players’ to play for LIV. He was then denied reinstatement in June based on his participation in the first LIV Invitational at Centurion Club, and barred from applying for reinstatement until March 2024 after playing in the subsequent event. You can bet that ban is even longer now as well!
3. AUGUSTA NATIONAL HAVE ALREADY PICKED A SIDE
The Green Jackets haven’t said a lot publicly, which appears to be at odds with what they’ve been doing behind closed doors. The lawsuit alleges that Augusta National had representatives present in an ‘emergency meeting’ of the PGA Tour’s Advisory Council to discuss ramifications for players defecting. Chairman Fred Ridley was also name-checked for ‘personally instructing a number of participants in the 2022 Masters not to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series’. Apparently, he also declined a meeting with LIV CEO Greg Norman.
4. THE DP WORLD TOUR’S STRATEGIC ALLIANCE WITH THE PGA TOUR NEARLY NEVER HAPPENED
Officials from the DP World Tour met Saudi Golf representatives in Malta in July 2021 to discuss a possible partnership and the launch of a new super league. The lawsuit claims that Keith Pelley ‘confirmed’ the new series’ appeal and fit, but was forced to reject the opportunity and enter into a new strategic alliance due to the ‘mighty power’ of the PGA Tour. The lawyers allege that the PGA Tour pressured the DP World Tour into amending their regulations to restrict members from competing in LIV Golf events. The DP World Tour did fine members $125,000 and suspended them from tournaments which are co-sanctioned with the PGA Tour, including the Scottish Open.
5. BRYSON DECHAMBEAU WAS FORCED TO BACKTRACK
Do you remember when Bryson released that statement last February, pledging his loyalty to the PGA Tour? Well, according to court documents, he had already signed with LIV Golf by that point – and he wasn’t the only player to have done so. LIV’S lawyers claim Bryson and other players who had previously signed contracts with LIV Golf were forced to publicly profess loyalty to the PGA Tour. Bryson was also allegedly sanctioned by the PGA Tour for ‘talking to other Tour members about the positive experience he had had with LIV Golf’.
6. CONFUSION LINGERS OVER LIV’S PRIZE MONEY
Perhaps the most surprising admission of all came when one of LIV’S lawyers revealed that prize money won in LIV tournaments is “recouped against the contracts.” Atul Khosla, the former President and Chief Operating Officer of LIV Golf Investments, continued to insist that the winnings are in addition to any signing-on bonuses, but if you believe everything you hear in court, Henrik Stenson probably didn’t see a dollar or dime of the $4 million he won on his LIV Golf debut (above).