PGA Tour has fired back against the LIV golf’s lawsuit by arguing that the suspended players knew of the consequences beforehand.
The governing body of Golf has asked the federal authorities to deny the appeal of three LIV golfers based on their knowledge of the consequences prior to joining the rival golf league.
11 LIV golfers have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour while three of them, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, and Hudson Swafford, filed a separate temporary restraining order so they can play in the PGA’s post-season, the FedExCup.
The top 125 golfers in the world qualify for the FedExCup with Gooch (No. 20), Jones (No. 65), and Swafford (No. 67) being among the nine players who meet the standards. The other six who joined LIV Golf are not asking to play in the tour’s postseason.
PGA, however, introduced a new rankings system that omits the LIV defectors entirely and has already selected the names after its last tournament on the circuit, the Wyndham Championship.
The hearing is scheduled just two days before the first of three FedEx Cup playoff events begin. The FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, has a $15 million purse, and the top 70 players advance to the second postseason event in Wilmington, Delaware.
In a court filing to oppose the temporary restraining order, the tour argued antitrust laws do not apply to the three players.
“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,” the tour said in its opposing motion.
“Plaintiffs have waited nearly two months to seek relief from the Court, fabricating an ‘emergency’ they now maintain requires immediate action,” the filing said. “It doesn’t.”
The tour contends players knew they would be ineligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs “when they accepted millions from LIV to breach their agreements” with the tour and not a single player was suspended until they actually teed off in a LIV Golf event.
Five LIV events remain on this year’s schedule with LIV Golf already announcing a 14-tournament schedule for 2023.
The next LIV event does not start until after the PGA Tour’s season ends at East Lake in Atlanta with the FedEx Cup, which pays $18 million to the champion.