Phil Mickelson, 10 other LIV golfers, file an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson, 10 other LIV golfers, file an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour


Eleven golfers from the fledgling LIV Golf Invitational Series have filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, arguing that their careers were damaged when the tour suspended them after they joined the Saudi-funded organization. The move has been anticipated since this year’s LIV came out to challenge professional golf’s supremacy on the PGA Tour.

Unlike some of the other players who left for LIV Golf, 11 players filed the suit – Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Taylor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Ian Poulter, Abraham Anser, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrac, Peter Uihlein – They haven’t lost their PGA Tour membership, which means they still hope to play on both tours. But the PGA Tour did not give them permission to play in the LIV tournaments and issued a suspension for several years after they did.

Is LIV the “future of golf” – or just golf with a soundtrack?

The lawsuit alleges that the PGA Tour not only threatened golfers who sought to play in LIV tournaments, but also “threatened sponsors, vendors, and agents to force players to forgo playing opportunities at LIV Golf events”; “arranged an illegal mass boycott per se with the European Tour to prevent LIV Golf from reaching its members”; and “based on” the groups that participated in the four major golf tournaments, leading them to ban LIV golfers from competing in the sport’s most prestigious event.

“The conduct of the Tour serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and prevent entry into the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” states the lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California. in Auckland.

Mickelson, one of the world’s most beloved golfers and a six-time major winner, has long been a supporter of starting a separatist organization, admitting to a biographer that he helped pay lawyers to set its operating rules. The lawsuit maintains that the PGA Tour suspended Mickelson for at least two months on March 22, among other reasons, for “attempting to recruit players” to join LIV Golf. (Mickelson’s last event on the PGA Tour was in late January, before news of his involvement with LIV broke.) He then denied his request to return to the position on June 20, saying he had violated PGA Tour rules by playing in the first LIV Golf Championship in London, and had him suspended . through March 31, 2023. This suspension was extended to March 31, 2024, after Mickelson played his second LIV Championship in Oregon, the lawsuit says.

“Mr. The suit states that Mickelson’s two-year unlawful suspension from the PGA Tour has caused him irreparable professional harm, as well as financial and business harm.” Although Mickelson lost a number of sponsors after downplaying Saudi human rights abuses prior to the launch of LIV, he was also reported to have received more than $100 million just for joining the series, in which the 52-year-old played poorly during three events. He and the rest of the LIV golfers get paid no matter how poorly they play because LIV tournaments have no cuts.

For the LIV players’ lawsuit to be successful, they would need to prove that they suffered actual damages and that the PGA Tour’s actions reduced competition in violation of federal law. Jacob S. said: Frenkel, head of government investigations and securities enforcement at law firm Dickinson Wright in Washington, told The Washington Post last week that proving damage “won’t be particularly easy when they are compensated in a way that may be greater than the final compensation from the PGA Tour.”

“They made a personal decision to secede from the PGA and join a competition tour. They didn’t have to do that,” Frenkel said. “As PGA Tour participants, they also agreed to certain standards, not just organization standards but standards of personal conduct.”

Can the Department of Justice influence the PGA Tour-LIV golf game? It is complicated.

PGA Tour golfers are required to obtain permission to play in non-disallowed tournaments, and three such instances are traditionally permitted per season (usually to play in events on the European Tour, which has an operating agreement with the PGA Tour). The lawsuit maintains that the round “armed” a “conflicting event list” to prevent golfers from playing in any unauthorized tournament and that the system “does not permit purposeful competition through other rounds.”

The US Department of Justice is also investigating the PGA Tour for possible antitrust violations, according to the Wall Street Journal, at least the second time federal officials have looked into tour deals. In 1994, antitrust lawyers at the Federal Trade Commission attempted to persuade the US government to repeal a rule requiring golfers to obtain permission to play on conflicting events — and another that said players should obtain permission to appear on previously unapproved television shows. PGA Tour – Because they devised “unfair competition tactics”.

But after intense lobbying by then-Commissioner Tim Finchim – a former official in President Jimmy Carter’s administration – the four FTC commissioners voted unanimously to reject an antitrust attorney’s recommendation for employees to take legal action against the PGA Tour.

In the players’ lawsuit, three LIV golfers are requesting a temporary restraining order allowing them to play in the season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs, a three-league competition that begins next week with an event featuring the 125 best golfers. In the long season ranking. Golfers accumulate points based on their performance over the entire season, and the three defectors – Gotch (No. 20 in the FedEx Cup standings), Jones (No. 62) and Swafford (No. 63) – would have been eligible for next week’s St. Jude Championship had they not been banned from Before the PGA Tour after playing at LIV Golf events.

In a memo to players sent Wednesday after the lawsuit was filed, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan described the three players’ bid to enter the FedEx Cup qualifiers as “an attempt to use the TOUR platform to promote themselves and to obtain your free benefits and efforts.”

“Essentially, these suspended players – who are now employees of the Saudi Golf League – have walked away from the tour and now want to come back. With the Saudi Golf League on hold, they are trying to hire lawyers to push their way into the competition alongside our reputable members,” as This is stated in the memo obtained by The Post.

There are two FedEx Cup ranking pages on the PGA Tour website, one with the LIV golfers still listed and one with these outgoing golfers and players below. The latter will be used to determine the course for 125 golfers in next week’s opener, except for the judge’s order.

After the first tournament, the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings advance to the BMW Championship, with the top 30 after that event competing in the season-ending Tour Championship. The winner of that tournament will receive $18 million, and golfers who finish the season high in the FedEx Cup points standings overall are accepted into the following year’s major tournaments.

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