Federal judge denies LIV golfers bid for PGA Tour post-season

·2-min read
The LIV Golf players claimed they are free agents   (AP)
The LIV Golf players claimed they are free agents (AP)

A federal judge in California has ruled against three LIV Golf players to deny them the opportunity to play in the PGA Tour's post-season.

Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford were attempting relief to compete in the first tournament of the FedEx Cup play-offs, which kicks off this week at the St Jude Championship at TPC Southwind.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman made her decision Tuesday afternoon in San Jose after attorneys for the sides each spoke for about an hour.

The golfers were seeking a temporary restraining order, which Ms Freeman denied.

The LIV Golf players claimed they should be able to play where they want to, each saying in letters last month to the PGA, “I am a free agent and independent contractor.”

“It appears to the court that the LIV contracts, negotiated by the players and consummated between the parties, were based upon the players’ calculation of what they would be leaving behind and the amount the players would need to monetize to compensate for those losses,” Ms Freeman said in her ruling. “I do agree with the defendants [the PGA Tour] that those losses were well known to the players at the time and clearly monetized.”

Ms Freeman noted that LIV Golf provides the suspended players opportunities to feature in elite golf in the United States, while also underlining the monetary reward.

“And, in fact, the evidence shows that it seems almost without a doubt that they will be earning more than they have made and could reasonably have expected to make in a reasonable amount of time under the PGA [Tour].”

“They made a business decision to receive money,” PGA Tour lawyer Elliot Peters argued during the hearing. “They have made in the last two months more money than they’ve ever made on the PGA Tour. They have already been paid to compensate for what they are here complaining about.”

They are among 10 players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last week – including Phil Mickelson.

The first of three FedEx Cup playoff events begin Thursday as players compete for the $18m (£14.7m) top prize.

AP contributed to this report