Judge rules PGA sues LIV golfers can’t participate in FedEx Cup playoffs


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A federal judge in California has ruled that three LIV golfers cannot participate in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, which begin this week.

Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford filed a temporary injunction against the PGA Tour last week, arguing that they qualified for and should be able to participate in the playoffs before defecting to LIV Golf. The PGA responded with a motion to block it, thus Tuesday’s court hearing.

Greg Norman CEO/Commissioner of LIV Golf and Talor Gooch on the first tee during Round 3 of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Bedminster on July 31, 2022 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Greg Norman CEO/Commissioner of LIV Golf and Talor Gooch on the first tee during Round 3 of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Bedminster on July 31, 2022 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
(Rich Gracel/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)

Because LIV is currently on hiatus from events (they don’t return until Labor Day weekend), the golfers argued that they are free agents and independent contractors.

However, the PGA maintains that anyone who joins LIV Golf will be barred from participating in tour-sponsored events and the upcoming Presidents Cup.

“These players made their choice for their own financial-based reasons,” tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in a memo. “But they cannot demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.”

Robert Walters, an antitrust litigator representing LIV golfers, argued that the upcoming playoffs are the “Super Bowl of golf” and offer them a chance at “significant revenue opportunities.” The winner in the playoffs will receive $18 million.

Matt Jones of Australia hits from the 18th tee during the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament Thursday, March 18, 2021, at Palm Beach Gardens.

Matt Jones of Australia hits from the 18th tee during the first round of the Honda Classic golf tournament Thursday, March 18, 2021, at Palm Beach Gardens.
(AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The PGA Tour will not allow live golfers to qualify for the FedEx Cup Playoffs in the first playoff event.

However, PGA Tour attorney Elliott Peters said allowing Gooch, Jones and Swafford to play could lead to free advertising for LIV golf and “change the status quo” for the tour.

Attorneys for both sides met with Judge Beth Labson Freeman and each spoke for more than an hour before she made her decision.

Taylor Gooch of the United States speaks to the media during a press conference at The Centurion Club on June 7, 2022 in St. Albans, England.

Taylor Gooch of the United States speaks to the media during a press conference at The Centurion Club on June 7, 2022 in St. Albans, England.
(Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images)

The top 125 golfers qualify for the first event: the St. Jude Invitational. Gooch is 20th, while Jones and Swafford are 65th and 67th, respectively.

Due to his ineligibility, Rickie Fowler was on the outside looking in, but is now in the field this weekend.



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