SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Eleven LIV Golf players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed an anti-trust lawsuit on Wednesday against the US PGA Tour, some seeking a restraining order to compete in next week’s playoffs.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Northern District of California, challenges the indefinite suspensions imposed by PGA commissioner Jay Monahan upon those who played in any of the Saudi-backed upstart tour’s first three events.
The lawsuit begins a legal showdown between the rebel series and the established PGA Tour and whether the golfers are free agents or as tour members are subject to rules and punishments of the PGA Tour.
With LIV Golf events offering record USD25 million purses and some players reportedly offered fat signing bonuses as well, some top names joined the circuit despite criticism.
“As the tour’s monopoly power has grown, it has employed its dominance to craft anti-competitive restraints to protect its long-standing monopoly,” the lawsuit claimed.
“Threatened by the entry of LIV Golf and diametrically opposed to its founding mission, the tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of any golfers… who have the temerity to defy the tour and play in tournaments sponsored by the new entrant.
“The tour has done so in an intentional and relentless effort to crush nascent competition before it threatens the tour’s monopoly.”
Australian Matt Jones and Americans Talor Gooch and Hudson Swafford want a temporary restraining order to be able to compete in next week’s first PGA Tour FedEx Cup playoff event at Memphis. They qualified based on season points before joining LIV Golf and being banished.
Other players filing the lawsuit include Mexico’s Abraham Ancer and Carlos Ortiz, England’s Ian Poulter and Americans Jason Kokrak, Pat Perez and Peter Uihlein.