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PGA Tour Files Federal Court Motion to Keep 3 LIV Golfers out of FedEx Cup Playoffs

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 8, 2022

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford accumulated enough points during the season to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, but the PGA Tour then suspended them for competing on the rival LIV Golf Invitational Series.

While that left them unable to participate in the playoffs, which start with this week's FedEx St. Jude Championship, the trio is seeking relief from a federal judge to compete.

In response, the PGA Tour filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday, saying the injunction request is "legally baseless" and asking a federal judge to deny a temporary restraining order that could let them play, per Mark Schlabach of ESPN.

The motion argued the players knew the consequences of their decision to join LIV Golf and are now trying to "have their cake and eat it too" with this effort:

"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. [Temporary restraining order] Plaintiffs now run into Court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the TOUR's season-ending FedExCup Playoffs, an action that would harm all TOUR members that follow the rules. The antitrust laws do not allow Plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too."

On the other side, attorneys for the three golfers said in a lawsuit, "The punishment that would accrue to these players from 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 would ensue were they not to be able to participate."

The hearing to consider the request for a temporary restraining order is Tuesday.

The FedEx Cup Playoffs feature the top 125 golfers in that season's standings who then participate in three events that progressively cut the fields from 125 to 70 and then to 30. The finale is the TOUR Championship, and the players compete for a total bonus pool of $75 million and an $18 million prize that goes to the FedExCup Champion.

Gooch, Jones and Swafford were among the 11 golfers who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The lawsuit challenged suspensions from the PGA Tour that were handed down for competing in the LIV circuit, and the trio's attempt to land the temporary restraining order to compete in the playoffs was part of the overall effort.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan responded to the lawsuit with a memo to players saying the LIV golfers attempted to "use the TOUR platform to promote themselves and to freeride on your benefits and efforts."

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>

LIV Golf is financially backed by the Saudi Arabian government in an arrangement that has drawn plenty of criticism. Included in that criticism are claims the Saudi Arabian government is attempting to sportswash its human rights violations.

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