PGA Tour Wants to Add Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to LIV Golf Lawsuit

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 25, 2023

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

Attorneys for the PGA Tour have filed a motion calling for Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to be listed as a defendant in the tour's countersuit against LIV Golf, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach.

The PGA Tour contends the PIF and its governor, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, helped golfers signed to the tour breach their contracts. Schlabach provided a portion of the motion:

"As set forth in the existing counterclaim, LIV intentionally and knowingly caused these players to breach their contractual obligations to the TOUR by misrepresenting TOUR contracts; inducing these breaches by offering highly lucrative contracts that make it impossible for players to comply with their TOUR contracts; and providing extensive indemnification and hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate LIV players for these breaches. Recently produced documents confirm that PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan played an active and central role in orchestrating these breaches for their own benefit and are equally liable for the harm caused to the TOUR."

Looking to make a splash right out of the gate, LIV Golf poached a number of the biggest stars in golf, flexing the financial muscle it had by virtue of being funded by the PIF.

Dan Rapaport @Daniel_Rapaport

$200m for Phil Mickelson<br>$150m for Dustin Johnson<br>$125m for Bryson DeChambeau<br>$100m for Brooks Koepka<br>$100m for Cameron Smith<br><br>That's $675 million from LIV Golf to sign 5 players. The total revenue for the PGA Tour in 2022 is somewhere around $1.5 billion.

The battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour spilled into the courtroom when a group of golfers, including Phil Mickelson, filed an antitrust suit against the PGA Tour in August.

The plaintiffs alleged they received "unprecedented suspensions" after signing with LIV Golf and that the PGA Tour was using its monopoly power to threaten their careers and finances. LIV joined the suit weeks later.

In September, the PGA Tour filed a countersuit centered accusing the golfers of breaching their contracts, per the Washington Post's Rick Maese:

"LIV has executed a campaign to pay the LIV 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."

According to Schlabach, LIV Golf responded by downplaying the extent to which the PIF held sway over the venture. Al-Rumayyan said in a sworn statement the PIF maintained just "high level oversight."

However, the PGA Tour received LIV Golf's Subscription and Shareholders' Agreement as part of discovery in December and claimed the document doesn't align with the PIF's previous characterization.

The tour contends the agreement laid out "PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan's total control over LIV and established that any LIV contract with a player requires authorization by PIF," per Schlabach.