The PGA Tour has filed a motion in Federal Court to bar three suspended members of the LIV Golf Invitational Series from participating in the FedEx Cup Playoffs; Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford are trying “to have their cake and eat it too,” according to the motion
Last Updated: 08/08/22 8:01pm
The PGA Tour has accused a number of LIV Golf rebels of “fabricating an emergency” after they filed a lawsuit requesting the lifting of their suspensions in order to be able to play in the lucrative season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs.
A hearing for the temporary restraining order is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose, California, after the Tour immediately banned all those who participated in the Saudi-backed breakaway series.
The anti-trust lawsuit includes 11 suspended players, notably six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, but it is reported only three of those players – Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford – are seeking re-entry into the FedEx Cup Play-offs.
There is a $75m (£62m) bonus pool for the three-tournament series with the eventual winner taking home $18m (£15m).
“The plaintiffs have waited nearly two months to seek relief from the court, fabricating an ’emergency’ they now maintain requires immediate action,” read a PGA Tour statement.
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“Despite knowing full well that they would breach tour regulations and be suspended for doing so, plaintiffs have joined competing golf league LIV Golf, which has paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money supplied by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to procure their breaches.
“TRO (temporary restraining order) plaintiffs now run into court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs, an action that would harm all Tour members that follow the rules.
“The anti-trust laws do not allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too.”
Several current players discuss the 11 LIV golfers who have filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour
The PGA Tour stresses the rebel players have known since June 9 that joining LIV Golf would result in suspensions, and that not every suspended player is pushing to play in the FedEx.
“In a telling sign, several other LIV players, including four other plaintiffs in this case, recognise there is no emergency or irreparable harm; they too have ‘qualified’ to play in the FedEx Cup but have not asked the court for the extraordinary relief sought through this motion,” added the statement.
The PGA Tour’s lead counsel Elliot Peters said in a statement: “The players’ participation in the LIV league is in violation of the PGA Tour’s (handbook).
“For enormous sums of cash supplied by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, plaintiffs wilfully breached their agreements with the PGA Tour.
“The players’ purported harm is entirely self-induced.”
LIV golfers file lawsuit against PGA Tour
Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter were among 11 LIV Golf players who last week filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour to challenge their suspensions.
“The 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,” the lawsuit states.
“The purpose of this action is to strike down the PGA Tour’s anticompetitive rules and practices that prevent these independent-contractor golfers from playing when and where they choose.”
In response, the PGA Tour released a memo written to players by commissioner Jay Monahan in which he described the 11 golfers as former colleagues who have “walked away from the Tour” and were now “Saudi Golf League employees”.
“We have been preparing to protect our membership and contest this latest attempt to disrupt our Tour, and you should be confident in the legal merits of our position,” Monahan wrote.
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“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. It’s an attempt to use the Tour platform to promote themselves and to freeride on your benefits and efforts.
“To allow re-entry into our events compromises the Tour and the competition, to the detriment of our organization, our players, our partners and our fans. The lawsuit they have filed somehow expects us to believe the opposite, which is why we intend to make our case clearly and vigorously.
“This is your Tour, built on the foundation that we work together for the good and growth of the organization…and then you reap the rewards. It seems your former colleagues have forgotten one important aspect of that equation.”