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LIV Golfers Can't Compete in PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs, Federal Judge Rules

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 9, 2022

Jonathan Ferrey/LIV Golf via Getty Images

Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones will not participate in the FedEx Cup playoffs after all.

Ryan Lavner of Golf Channel reported Tuesday that a federal judge denied a potential temporary restraining order that would have allowed the three golfers who joined the LIV Invitational Series to compete in the PGA Tour's playoff system even though they are suspended for joining the Saudi Arabian-backed rival.

Rex Hoggard of Golf Channel provided more context:

Rex Hoggard @RexHoggardGC

Judge rules request for TRO was "timely," but ruled that plaintiffs (LIV players) didn't establish "harm" and (only for TRO) that the Tour's application of its own regulations "not unreasonable." Deny TRO.

In making the decision, the judge said the players were aware of the opportunities they would lose on the PGA Tour should they choose to join LIV, per Kyle Porter of CBS Sports.

PGA Tour attorney Elliot Peters argued ahead of the decision that the trio "made a business decision to receive money," per Sean Zak of Golf Magazine. "They have made in the last two months more money than they've ever made on the PGA Tour."

Arguing Gooch, Swafford and Jones made so much money playing for LIV was notable because it cut into the idea the PGA Tour is a monopoly.

Gooch, Swafford and Jones were among the 11 LIV golfers who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour that challenged the tour's ability to suspend them for participating in the rival events. Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein were the other golfers who joined them in the lawsuit.

Part of that lawsuit was an effort by Gooch, Swafford and Jones to land the temporary restraining order to play in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs since they accumulated enough points during the season to qualify for the 125-player field.

"As part of that suit, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford are seeking a temporary restraining order to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs, despite knowing they would be ineligible for tournament play as early as June, and of course, the year's worth of communication in advance of their decision to join the Saudi Golf League," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo to players:

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>

That was not the only response from the PGA Tour, as Mark Schlabach of ESPN reported it filed a motion asking a federal judge to deny the temporary restraining order.

Attorneys representing the PGA Tour called the attempt to obtain the restraining order "legally baseless," while the motion argued they were attempting to "have their cake and eat it too":

"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."

This means the FedEx Cup playoffs will go on without the LIV trio in a format that features three events that progressively cut the field from 125 to 70 and then to 30 while ending at the TOUR Championship.

The first event is the FedEx St. Jude Championship, which starts Thursday.

The FedEx Cup champion receives an $18 million prize.

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