Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau Among LIV Golfers to File Antitrust Lawsuit vs. PGA

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 3, 2022

Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images

Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau are among the 11 golfers on the LIV Golf Circuit who reportedly filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Wednesday, per Louise Radnofsky and Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal.

Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein were the other golfers attached to the lawsuit.

The golfers on the Saudi Arabia-backed circuit are challenging the PGA Tour's decision to suspend them for participating in LIV events.

"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 motion says.

As part of the lawsuit, Gooch, Swafford and Jones are looking for a temporary restraining order that would allow them to play in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs. They each accumulated enough points to qualify for the 125-player field prior to joining LIV, but the PGA Tour said they cannot compete.

The PGA Tour will allow players from outside the top 125 in the rankings to compete and take the place of those associated with LIV.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan responded to the lawsuit:

Rex Hoggard @RexHoggardGC

Memo from PGA Tour commissioner to players in response to antitrust lawsuit that was filed Wednesday in California. <a href="https://t.co/T0UR9FMoud">pic.twitter.com/T0UR9FMoud</a>

Radnofsky and Beaton noted the new lawsuit also illuminates some details on Mickelson's status with the PGA Tour. Lefty is arguably the face of LIV Golf at this point and, according to the suit, was suspended in March for allegedly recruiting players. The PGA Tour denied his application for reinstatement and said he cannot reapply until March 2024 after playing in multiple LIV events.

This is not the only legal issue the PGA Tour is facing, as Radnofsky and Beaton previously reported the Justice Department is investigating it for anticompetitive behavior. However, the PGA Tour has also received some bipartisan support from lawmakers on Capitol Hill given LIV's financial backers.

"We welcome good, healthy competition," Monahan said. "The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It's an irrational threat; one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.

"If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can't compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can't compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in an attempt to buy the game of golf."

This comes after LIV Golf announced it will expand its schedule to 14 tournaments for $405 million in purses next year (h/t ESPN's Mark Schlabach).

It debuted this year with eight tournaments and $255 million in purses.

LIV Golf has received plenty of criticism because of the financial backing of the Saudi Arabian government, which has been accused of attempting to sportswash its human rights violations.


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