THE PGA Tour has accused a number of LIV Golf rebels of “fabricating an emergency” after they filed a lawsuit requesting the lifting of their suspensions in order to be able to play in the lucrative season-ending FedEx Cup Play-offs.
A hearing for the temporary restraining order is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose, California, after the Tour immediately banned all those who participated in the Saudi-backed breakaway series.
The anti-trust lawsuit includes 11 suspended players, notably six-time major winner Phil Mickelson and 2020 US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, but it is reported only three of those players – Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford – are seeking re-entry into the FedEx Cup Play-offs.
There is a 75million US dollars (£62m) bonus pool for the three-tournament series, which starts on Thursday with the FedEx St Jude Championship, with the eventual winner taking home 18m dollars (£15m)
“The plaintiffs have waited nearly two months to seek relief from the court, fabricating an ‘emergency’ they now maintain requires immediate action,” read a PGA Tour statement.
“Despite knowing full well that they would breach tour regulations and be suspended for doing so, plaintiffs have joined competing golf league LIV Golf, which has paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money supplied by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to procure their breaches.
“TRO (temporary restraining order) plaintiffs now run into court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup Play-offs, an action that would harm all Tour members that follow the rules.
“The anti-trust laws do not allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too.”
The PGA Tour stresses the rebel players have known since June 9 joining LIV Golf would result in suspensions, and that not every suspended player is pushing to play in the FedEx.
“In a telling sign, several other LIV players, including four other plaintiffs in this case, recognize there is no emergency or irreparable harm; they too have ‘qualified’ to play in the FedEx Cup but have not asked the court for the extraordinary relief sought through this motion,” added the statement.
The PGA Tour’s lead counsel Elliot Peters said in a statement: “The players’ participation in the LIV league is in violation of the PGA Tour’s (handbook).
“For enormous sums of cash supplied by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, plaintiffs wilfully breached their agreements with the PGA Tour.
“The players’ purported harm is entirely self-induced.”
The Golf Channel reports the lawsuit claims “the Tour flexed its incumbent monopolistic power, including by enforcing its unlawful player restrictions that deny players the ability to sell their services to others, imposing lengthy suspensions on players for merely exercising their right as independent contractors.”