PGA Tour has filed a countersuit against LIV Golf amid the escalating legal battle between two golfing circuits while accusing the Saudi-backed league of using antitrust laws “as a cudgel” and undermining the existing contracts of its players.
Back in August, LIV Golf and 11 players including Phil Mickelson had accused the PGA Tour of antitrust violations. Gradually Mickelson and a few others decided to drop the suit but the legal tussle between the two leagues is set to go on.
The PGA Tour has also claimed in its countersuit that all the contractually bound players had no unilateral right to defect to LIV Golf and were aware that breaching their contracts would result in suspensions.
The lawsuit also accuses LIV Golf of intentionally and openly undermining the PGA Tour’s contractual relationships with its players by paying former players such as Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Smith huge sums of money to join the new tour.
“(This case) is a cynical effort to avoid competition and to freeride off of the Tour’s investment in the development of professional golf,” it said.
“LIV has openly sought to damage the Tour’s business relationships with its members by inducing them to breach their contractual requirements,” the Tour said. “Even going so far as to pay members’ legal fees to make breaching their contracts with Tour more enticing.”
Greg Norman’s league fired back in a statement accusing the Tour of making the counterclaims “in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct”.
The trial date for the case is not scheduled until January 2024 meaning this back and forth will go on for some time.