The PGA Tour has won their first legal battle against the controversial LIV Golf brand, with a judge ruling on Tuesday that LIV Golf players are not eligible to play in the FedEx Cup starting this week.
Specifically, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford were the three golfers seeking the temporary restraining order to play at the FedEx St. Jude Championship – but a judge ruled that their cases did not prove they were victims of "irreparable harm" due to their highly paid contracts.
The LIV Golf lawyers argued that the FedEx Cup is about "more than money" – even going as far as calling it "the Super Bowl of golf", and comparing former FedEx Cup winners to all-time greats Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman.
They claimed the PGA Tour was attempting to use monopoly powers to stamp out fair competition, to which the PGA lawyers countered with the facts that five of their top-10 most famous players – based on their Player Impact Program – have already jumped ship, and that Gooch, specifically, signed a contract worth significantly more than the $18million awarded to the winner of the FedEx Cup.
LIV Golf were queried about how they could project a 20 per cent market share while also calling the PGA Tour a monopoly, and that being a monopoly is not illegal, only using monopoly powers against another organisation is.
The judge explained that the breakaway golfers would have ample opportunity to play on the alternate tour; that their upfront LIV Golf contracts took into account the possibility that they would not be eligible for the FedEx Cup and/or major championships; and that the inability to win even more money does not constitute "irreparable harm".
Some other interesting tidbits were revealed during proceedings, including a direct contradiction from a prevalent storyline about the LIV Golf contracts.
LIV Golf lawyers claimed that prize money won from tournaments would be "recouped against the LIV contracts" – with a clip emerging immediately afterwards showing an LIV Golf spokesperson specifically saying during a news conference featuring Pat Perez and Brooks Koepka that all prize money would be "in addition to the contracts".
Their lawyers also confirmed that all 48 spots had been filled for next LIV Golf season, and the judge indicated that the larger-scale antitrust trial would be tentatively scheduled for September.