Professional golfers filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Wednesday.
In connection with the Saudi-backed LIV league, the players were suspended from the tour.
LIV is taking measures because the PGA is putting restrictive policies in place which limits their ability to compete with the PGA.
Eleven golf professionals were suspended by the PGA Tour, according to a lawsuit filed by the professionals, due to their involvement with the Saudi-backed LIV league.
The lawsuit, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, is just the latest salvo in an ongoing fight between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.
Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter and Talor Gooch, among others, allege in the filing that the PGA is trying to cut off the supply of professional golfers to LIV, making it impossible for LIV to compete with the tour.
They are asking that their suspensions be lifted and that unspecified monetary damages be paid. All three plaintiffs — Gooch, Swafford, and Jones — are requesting, in addition to the relief requested above, a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Tour from allowing them to participate in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which start next week.
“These suspended players – who are now employees of the Saudi Golf League – left the TOUR and now want to return,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan wrote in a memo to members on Wednesday. Not only does it compromise the TOUR, but it also compromises the competition and the organization, not to mention our players, partners and fans.
The complaint accuses him of recruiting players for LIV Golf’s tours. Tour officials denied Mickelson’s appeal in June — he was initially suspended — and prohibited 16 additional players from participating in league events for participating in the LIV Golf Tournament without obtaining the required media clearances.
Even after the most brutal public criticism, Phil Mickelson defends LIV Golf for it’s breaking-down of tradition on the PGA Tour.
It cites what it describes as restrictive media rights and conflicting show regulations in calling the PGA Tour an entrenched monopoly that engages in a carefully orchestrated plan to defeat competition.
The complaint alleges that, beyond suspensions and regulations, the PGA Tour threatened sponsors, vendors and agents to coerce players into leaving LIV Golf, which is funded mainly by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
The players are right to have brought this action and to defend their rights as independent contractors to play where and when they choose, LIV Golf said in a statement. We do not think that the PGA Tour’s latest regulations are really reasonable; in fact, we think golfers should be allowed to play the game.
In addition to its own investigation, the Department of Justice is also looking into possible antitrust violations at LIV Golf.
In the meantime, the PGA Tour has been lobbying politicians and White House officials to convince them to oppose the Saudi league.