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PGA Tour Says LIV Induced Contract Breaches with 'Astronomical' Money in New Lawsuit

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 29, 2022

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - AUGUST 24: PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks during a press conference prior to the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on August 24, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan (Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

A PGA Tour countersuit filed against LIV Golf on Wednesday alleges the rival league urged players to breach their contracts in a battle for top talent.

ESPN's Mark Schalch reported Thursday the PGA Tour's legal filing, which is a response to LIV Golf's antitrust allegations, states LIV offered players "astronomical sums of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the Tour in an effort to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities and to further the Saudi Public Investment Fund's Vision 2030 initiatives."

The lawsuit also alleged deals offered by LIV, which is financially backed by Saudi Arabia, "impose contractual restrictions on the LIV players more onerous in scope and duration than any of the Tour regulations they challenge," per Schlabach.

Along with the dueling lawsuits, the U.S. Justice Department opened an investigation in July to determine whether the PGA Tour violated any antitrust laws with its treatment of players who made the move to LIV Golf.

The Tour has indefinitely banned players who've competed in a LIV event, a stance commissioner Jay Monahan said in August will remain in place despite objections.

"No," Monahan said when asked whether he'd reconsider the suspensions.

After some pointed remarks from golfers on both sides of the battle, star players in each corner have signaled it may be time to start bringing an end to the proverbial cold war.

LIV cornerstone Phil Mickelson argued in mid-September the new league is "here to stay," so it's time to work toward ways to co-exist.

"The best solution is for us to come together," Lefty said. "I think that the world of professional golf has a need for the old historical 'history of the game' product that the PGA Tour provides. I think that LIV provides a really cool, updated feel that is attracting a lot younger crowds."

PGA star Rory McIlroy, one of the most outspoken critics of LIV at the outset, continued to soften his stance on the subject Wednesday, though he noted the legal battle is an issue.

"I've always said I think there is a time and a place where everyone that's involved here should sit down and try to work together," McIlroy said. "It's very hard for that to happen right now when there's two lawsuits going on."

There were no signs of a thaw in the PGA Tour's countersuit, however, which described LIV Golf's original lawsuit as a "cynical effort to avoid competition" while calling the claims "baseless and entirely without legal merit," per Schlabach.

"The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct, which LIV and the players detail in their 104-page complaint," LIV Golf said in a statement. "We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs."

Meanwhile, their respective schedules roll on. The PGA Tour opened the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi on Thursday, while LIV Golf's next event will tee off Oct. 7 in Thailand.

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