From the moment LIV Golf became a reality, most assumed that things would be settled in a court of law between the PGA Tour and its new competitor. With the Department of Justice opening an investigation, it seems the wheels have been put in motion for what was always an inevitable next step.
The PGA Tour has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the Department of Justice is investigating if the PGA Tour engaged in “anticompetitive behavior” with its Saudi-backed rival.
Shortly after the first tee shot was struck in the inaugural LIV Golf event on June 9, the PGA Tour announced that all players who defected to the rival circuit were indefinitely suspended from competing in PGA Tour events. This punishment is what LIV Golf sees as anticompetitive.
PGA Tour players that wanted to play in LIV Golf’s first event requested a release to do so. This is standard protocol for any Tour players who wish to compete on other circuits, such as the DP World Tour.
PGA Tour players are typically granted three releases a season if they meet expectations on Tour, but the Tour did not grant the LIV hopefuls a release.
Players who elected to go to London to play in the first LIV Golf event, or played in the second event in Portland at the end of June, were hit with indefinite suspensions. The DP World Tour – formerly the European Tour – also fined players. Since then, the PGA Tour and DP World Tour have expanded and strengthened their alliance.
Earlier in the year, LIV Golf sent a letter to players and agents accusing the PGA Tour of monopolistic behavior, writing that if the PGA Tour followed through on banning players who joined LIV Golf that it would “likely cause the federal government to investigate and punish the PGA Tour’s unlawful practices.”
Well, here we are.
Investigation Begins As Biden Prepares For Saudi Trip Of His Own
The DOJ opening this investigation of the PGA Tour, and news of it becoming public, comes at the same time President Joe Biden is preparing to make a trip to Saudi Arabia from July 13-16.
While Biden has claimed that asking the Saudis to increase their oil production is “not the purpose of the trip,” oil will certainly be a topic of discussion with gas prices and inflation skyrocketing in the U.S.
While it’s easy to call this a coincidence, it’s just as easy to connect the dots.
The Saudis have been on the receiving end of severe scrutiny since the launch of LIV Golf. The DOJ investigating the PGA Tour puts more heat on the Tour itself and less eyeballs on the Saudis. Meanwhile, America needs oil and President Biden just so happens to be making his trip to Saudi Arabia as the investigation gets underway.
Who had golf and oil being closely intertwined on the world economy stage on their 2022 bingo card?