Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter are among 11 LIV golfers who have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour to challenge their suspensions in the latest battle in golf’s Civil War.
The group includes three players – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – who are seeking an injunction so they can play in the FedEx Cup play-offs, which begin next week.
The complaint also alleges that Mickelson was banned for two months on March 22 for “attempting to recruit players for LIV Golf” and that that ban has since been extended to March 31, 2024 as a result of attending the LIV events in London and Portland.
Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein are the other players putting their names on the lawsuit, arguing that the PGA Tour is trying to harm their careers.
“The Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to harm players and prevent the occurrence of the first significant competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” reads the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District became California, States.
“The purpose of this promotion is to strike down the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive rules and practices that prevent these independent contract golfers from playing when and where they want.”
In response, the PGA Tour released a memo from Commissioner Jay Monahan to the players, in which he described the 11 players as former colleagues who had “walked away from the tour” and were now “employees of the Saudi Golf League.”
“We have prepared to protect our membership and contest this recent attempt to disrupt our tour and you should rest assured of the legal merits of our position,” Monahan wrote.
“As the Saudi Golf League is on hiatus they are looking to use lawyers to break into the competition alongside our respected members. It’s an attempt to use the tour platform to promote yourself and capitalize on your benefits and efforts.
“Allowing re-entry into our events puts the tour and the competition at risk 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 arguments clear and forceful.
“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 an important aspect of this equation.”
Poulter was one of three DP World Tour members who successfully obtained a temporary stay of their suspension from the Scottish Open in July pending a decision on their substantive appeals.
The players had also been fined £100,000 for participating in the first LIV Golf event in June after being turned down for the required clearances.
Former Ryder Cup captain Davis Love said Tuesday PGA Tour players could take the “nuclear option” of boycotting events if LIV rebels successfully challenge their suspensions.
“If the LIV guys are suing and they’re allowed to play on the PGA Tour, the players are fed up,” 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 enforces our rules and we don’t want these guys playing, coming and picking our tournaments.
“We all have tickets. We say to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and Washington: “No, we support the rules. We don’t want these guys to play. We don’t care what the courts say.
“The nuclear option is to say, ‘Well, if they have to play our events, we just don’t play’.”
Being suspended from the PGA Tour means the likes of Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed won’t be able to represent the United States in September’s Presidents Cup when Love will be in charge of the team.
“I’ve told the players I’ve spoken to that they left or are considering leaving, it’s your choice and you’re doing what’s right for you, but understand (the) consequences,” Love added added.
“I was trying to sound like my father 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, make your choice.
“But you understood the consequences and signed up for these rules. I had to sign by last Friday or I can’t play this week. I have to play 15 tournaments or I can’t vote and I won’t get my retirement money. You have rules that you have to abide by.
“I said you want to break a rule, which is a big rule, and you will be punished for it.
“And Jay’s[Monahan, PGA Tour officer]has been saying it for a year and some of them got that, some of them said it’s not going to happen, and some of them just lied, (saying) ‘I will I don’t do this, I don’t do that’.”
Love admits he was “totally wrong” when he said six months ago that LIV would not take place and that Phil Mickelson would be the only player to leave ship, but added: “I don’t know what It’s going to happen from now on out, but I know it’s going to be a battle and the players are merging more and more.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/golf/phil-mickelson-ian-poulter-jay-monahan-liv-golf-us-district-court-b2137632.html Golfer Mickelson and Poulter File Antitrust Lawsuit Against PGA Tour