LIV Golf takes on PGA Tour in US District Court


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A dispute over the present and future of global professional golf will reach the interior of an American courtroom for the first time on Tuesday as three banned golfers seek emergency judicial help in getting tee times in the PGA Tour’s lucrative playoff bonanza.

Controversy over the new Saudi-backed LIV tour has consumed the sport’s highest levels in recent months. A ruling in favor of the PGA Tour or its rebel players belonging to the LIV circuit would have an immediate impact on what could prove to be years of contentious litigation.

The main lawsuit filed by 11 golfers, including Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson, drew international attention last week. They allege the PGA Tour violates antitrust laws by prohibiting its members from realizing opportunities to play outside the umbrella of the Florida-based organization, which has been a dominant force in professional golf for decades.

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Taylor Gooch drives off the 16th tee during the third round of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club on July 31, 2022 in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Taylor Gooch drives off the 16th tee during the third round of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Bedminster at Trump National Golf Club on July 31, 2022 in Bedminster, New Jersey.
(Rich Gracel/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)

“As part of its carefully orchestrated plan to beat the competition, the [PGA] The Tour has threatened lifetime bans against players who play in a single LIV golf event,” the players’ lawsuit alleges. “By imposing unprecedented suspensions on players, it has supported these threats by irreparably harming players and their ability to continue their careers. .”

There was an urgent request from the three banned players in Tuesday’s episode — Hudson Swafford, Talor Gooch and Matt Jones — to be eligible to tee it up Thursday in Memphis for the PGA Tour’s season-ending playoff opener. There is an estimated $100 million in prize money and bonuses available, and exemptions to prestigious tournaments including the Masters and the US Open next year.

“The only reason [these three players] “They are being denied this opportunity because they are the target of the Tour’s illegal scheme to defeat its new competitor,” the golfers’ attorneys argued in their court filing, which urges the PGA Tour to reinstate them in the upcoming playoffs.

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

A general view of the LIV Golf logo during Round 1 of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Bedminster on July 29, 2022 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

A general view of the LIV Golf logo during Round 1 of the LIV Golf Invitational Series Bedminster on July 29, 2022 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
(Rich Gracel/ICON Sportswire via Getty Images)

US District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman has been assigned to the case and will preside over Tuesday’s hearing from her San Jose, Calif., courtroom.

In its response to the court, the PGA Tour says its players must agree to all of its rules, including bans on playing in outside events and restrictions on media rights. They argue that letting Swafford, Gooch and Jones back into the fold would harm all the other members who followed the rules.

“Antitrust laws do not allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it,” Toure responded Monday.

While defending itself against accusations of illegal monopoly, the PGA Tour prohibits its members from trading easily elsewhere, using its response to the court to directly attack LIV and its foreign backers.

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

LIV Golf CEO/Commissioner Greg Norman, right, and Talor Gooch speak on the first tee during the third round 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)

“LIV is not a rational economic actor, competing fairly to launch a golf tour. It is willing to lose billions of dollars for leverage. [golfers] And golf is the sport to ‘sportswash’ the Saudi government’s deplorable reputation for human rights abuses,” the Tour said.

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Protests by families of 9/11 victims and others have targeted three LIV events already held this summer.



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