PGA Tour Files Suit Against LIV's Saudi Financial Backers in Federal Court

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 21, 2022

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 29: PGA TOUR logo is seen during the second round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines South on January 29, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)
Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

The latest chapter in the legal back-and-forth between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf began Thursday.

According to ESPN's Mark Schlabach, the PGA Tour filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. The lawsuit was filed against LIV Golf's financier, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, and its governor, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan.

The PGA Tour's goal in the latest filing is to obtain a motion to compel from a federal judge, which would require Al-Rumayyan to be deposed as part of another federal lawsuit involving the two golf leagues and for documents to be available to the PGA Tour's lawyers through discovery.

Schlabach provided something of a timeline to the proceedings, noting the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the PGA Tour for alleged monopolistic actions after 11 LIV Golf players filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against it on Aug. 3.

While eight of the 11 players asked to be removed from the case, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein all remain plaintiffs.

The PGA Tour—which suspended more than 30 players after they competed in LIV Golf events without releases—responded by countersuing LIV Golf on Sept. 29 and alleging it interfered with ongoing contracts of players.

The emergence of LIV Golf was a dominant storyline in the golf world throughout the year, as notable players such as Dustin Johnson, Cameron Smith, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Sergio Garcia and DeChambeau joined the new organization despite pressure and suspensions from the PGA Tour.

Hovering over the discourse is the reality that financial backing from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund opens LIV Golf up to plenty of criticism.

Saudi Arabia's efforts in the golf world have been classified by many as sportswashing, which uses entertainment such as sports teams and leagues to distract from human rights abuses and other more serious issues.

In addition to his role with LIV Golf, Al-Rumayyan is chairman of the English soccer team Newcastle United.

LIV Golf went through with its first series of events in the face of that criticism this year, and Dustin Johnson took home the season-long individual title.

While the events continue on the course, it seems as if the legal battles will also remain ongoing for some time between the two golf leagues.