Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter among 11 LIV Golf Invitational Series players filing lawsuit against PGA Tour
Eleven LIV Golf players have filed a lawsuit against PGA Tour in order to challenge suspensions; in response, the PGA Tour released memo written to players by commissioner Jay Monahan in which he described the 11 golfers as former colleagues who have "walked away from the Tour"
Last Updated: 04/08/22 8:21am
Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter are among 11 LIV Golf players who have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour to challenge their suspensions.
The group includes three players - Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones - who are seeking a temporary restraining order to allow them to compete in the FedEx Cup play-offs, which get under way next week.
The complaint and application for a temporary restraining order were filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein are the other players putting their names to the suit, arguing the PGA Tour is trying to hurt their careers.
"The Tour's conduct serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and foreclose the entry of the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades," the lawsuit states.
"The purpose of this action is to strike down the PGA Tour's anticompetitive rules and practices that prevent these independent-contractor golfers from playing when and where they choose."
In response, the PGA Tour released a memo written to players by commissioner Jay Monahan in which he described the 11 golfers as former colleagues who have "walked away from the Tour" and were now "Saudi Golf League employees".
"We have been preparing to protect our membership and contest this latest attempt to disrupt our Tour, and you should be confident in the legal merits of our position," Monahan wrote.
"With the Saudi Golf League on hiatus, they're trying to use lawyers to force their way into competition alongside our members in good standing. It's an attempt to use the Tour platform to promote themselves and to freeride on your benefits and efforts.
"To allow re-entry into our events compromises the Tour and the competition, to the detriment of our organization, our players, our partners and our fans. The lawsuit they have filed somehow expects us to believe the opposite, which is why we intend to make our case clearly and vigorously.
"This is your Tour, built on the foundation that we work together for the good and growth of the organization...and then you reap the rewards. It seems your former colleagues have forgotten one important aspect of that equation."
Poulter was one of three DP World Tour members who successfully gained a temporary stay of their suspensions from July's Scottish Open, pending determination of their substantive appeals.
The players had also been fined £100,000 for competing in the first LIV Golf event in June after being turned down for the required releases.
Speaking on Tuesday, former Ryder Cup captain Davis Love said PGA Tour players could take the "nuclear option" of boycotting events if the LIV rebels successfully challenge their suspensions.
"If the LIV guys sue and are allowed to play on the PGA Tour, the players are enough fed up with it," Love said in a press conference ahead of the Wyndham Championship.
"We understand that we make the rules on the PGA Tour and the commissioner is enforcing our rules and we don't want those guys playing, coming and cherry-picking our tournaments.
"We hold all the cards. We say to the FTC [Federal Trade Commission] and to Washington, 'No, we support the rules. We don't want those guys playing. We don't care what the courts say'.
"The nuclear option is to say 'Fine, if they have to play in our events we just won't play'."
Being suspended by the PGA Tour means players such as Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed cannot represent the United States in September's Presidents Cup, when Love will captain the side.
"I told the players that I've talked to that have gone or thinking about going, it's your decision and you do what's right for you, but understand [the] consequences," Love added.
"I tried to sound like my dad and I probably wasn't very good at it. I didn't argue. I said you can be Tiger Woods or you can be banned from the game, take your pick.
"But understanding the consequences, you signed up for these rules. I had to commit by last Friday or I don't get to play this week. I have to play 15 tournaments or I don't get to vote and I don't get my retirement money. You have rules that you have to adhere to.
"I said you're fixing to break a rule that's a big rule and you're going to get penalised for it.
"And Jay's (Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner) been saying it for a year and some of them understood that, some of them said it's not going to happen, and some of them just flat out lied, [saying] 'I'm not doing this, I'm not doing that'."
Love admits he was "dead wrong" to say six months ago LIV was not going to happen and that Phil Mickelson would be the only player to jump ship, but added: "I don't know what's going to happen from here on out, but I know it's going to be a fight and the players are getting more and more unified against it."
Horschel: It doesn't make sense | Zalatoris: Players' actions are detrimental to our Tour | Cink: Truth starting to come out
Several current players have discussed the 11 LIV golfers who have filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour...
"Why? Why do they need to come and play the PGA Tour? They made a decision to go and play the LIV Tour, they made a decision to not follow the rules of the PGA Tour.
"They signed multi-million dollar contracts, they're playing for a lot of money. Every one of them has said they want to play less golf, and so now they're going to play more golf by playing the PGA Tour?
"They want to spend more time with their family? It just doesn't make sense to me.
"The question I keep asking myself and that I should ask them, and maybe the media should ask them, is what is their vision of supporting the PGA Tour?
"They've talked about that they do want to be on the PGA Tour - some of them have - and say they still want to support the PGA Tour, but what is that vision?
"The vision is not playing 15 events minimum in a year on the PGA Tour, because that would then be 29 events which goes against what they said earlier: that they wanted to play less.
"Their vision is cherry picking what events they want to play in on the PGA Tour, obviously those would the invitationals, Players, the higher world ranking events and the biggest purse events on the PGA Tour.
"And that's not supporting the PGA Tour. That's getting exemptions into these events, so it's frustrating.
"They made a decision to leave the PGA Tour, and they should go follow their employer."
"You know I understand their argument to say we're independent contractors but what they're doing going over there is detrimental to our tour.
"So you can't have it both ways. We'll see what happens.
"I think if they're allowed to play I'd like to see what they did with the Scottish Open, where they put them in their own crew.
"I wouldn't mind seeing them in their own foursome."
"These guys were well aware of the consequences of going to LIV, so I don't know what their train of thought is right now with trying to sue the Tour when I'm pretty sure they knew what would happen.
"They would be suspended. The commissioner let us know the consequences of joining LIV a long time ago, so we'll see what happens."
"They should just be content with the decision they made, and stick to where they moved to.
"I hung out with Hudson Swafford last week a lot, we're still good friends. We have differences of opinion and that's a lot about life."
"I think we're starting to see the truth come out.
"Playing less was not the reason players were joining another tour. Growing the game is not a reason players are going to join another tour.
"It's to get paid a lot. And so if you say you would play less but then you go to the length of filing a lawsuit to get access to more tournaments, I think you're kind of talking out of both sides of your mouth."
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