Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter and a slew of other LIV Golf athletes have filed a lawsuit against the PGA Tour citing antitrust violations. The filing comes after the LIV players were suspended from participating in PGA tour events due to their participation in joining the controversial Saudi-backed LIV tour.
The lawsuit alleges that the PGA is placing a chokehold on players in an effort to prevent PGA tour athletes from jumping ship and joining the newly formed LIV tour by suspending current LIV associated golfers from tour events. The lawsuit includes a request from LIV golfers to remove their suspensions and unspecified amounts of monetary damages are also included in the lawsuit’s requests.
“These suspended players – who are now Saudi Golf League employees – have walked away from the TOUR and now want back in,” remarked PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan in response to the lawsuit. “To allow reentry into our events compromises the TOUR and the competition, to the detriment of our organization, our players, our partners and our fans.”
The PGA tour previously suspended Mickelson in March 2022 for recruiting players to the LIV Golf series. Mickelson appealed the suspension, which the PGA denied in June, alongside 16 additional golfers who moved to the LIV tour.
The lawsuit alleges that the PGA tour has “an entrenched monopolist with a vice-grip on professional golf” and excuses the PGA of the inception of a “carefully orchestrated plan to defeat competition.”
An additional filing from plaintiffs Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford includes a request for their suspension to be lifted as well as a request for a temporary restraining order against the PGA tour that would allow the three golfers to play in the upcoming FedEx Cups Playoffs, of which all three previously qualified for.
The lawsuit is the latest addition to ongoing drama between the LIV Tour and PGA. As the LIV Tour approaches the LPGA in talks of expansion, more and more questions emerge regarding the potential downfall and true impact that the Saudi-backed tour could unleash on the golf world.
The LIV Golf series is backed by the Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is chaired by Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. The LIV Golf tour has received backlash for its funding due to a history of human rights violations, including the 2018 execution of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was openly critical of the Saudi Arabia government.
As recent as last month, a LIV event was the subject of public protests.
Families of 9/11 victims and 9/11 survivors protested outside of the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, which was the site for the third event of the LIV Golf series and just a short train ride from Ground Zero. The protests criticizing the partnership were due to al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization that hijacked the aircrafts used to carry out the 9/11 attacks, as they're primary funding source was the Saudi Arabia government.