The antitrust lawsuit filed by 11 LIV golfers against the PGA Tour contains a number of different allegations, with one, in particular, mentioning golfers potentially being banned from playing in the Masters.
LIV Golf’s wheels were barely in motion when the 2022 Masters rolled around in April. The Saudi-backed circuit had only released its schedule less than a month before the opening tee shot at Augusta National.
With that being the case, Augusta National didn’t exactly have a case for banning LIV golfers from competing with the first LIV tournament not coming until June. That doesn’t mean that Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley didn’t warn players before joining LIV Golf.
Augusta National May Look To Ban LIV Golfers From The Masters
According to the lawsuit filed by LIV golfers earlier this week, Augusta National appears to be following in the PGA Tour’s footsteps, which has banned all LIV golfers from competing in Tour events.
“Augusta National, the promoter of The Masters, has taken multiple actions to indicate its alignment with the PGA Tour, thus seeding doubt among top professional golfers whether they would be banned from future Masters Tournaments,” the suit read.
“As an initial matter, the links between the PGA Tour and Augusta National run deep. The actions by Augusta National indicate that the PGA Tour has used these channels to pressure Augusta National to do its bidding.”
“For example, in February, 2022 Augusta National representatives threatened to disinvite players from The Masters if they joined LIV Golf.”
“Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley personally instructed a number of participants in the 2022 Masters not to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series,” the suit continues.
Could The Masters Be The First Major To Ban LIV Golfers?
It’s easy to read between the lines here, and perhaps even predict the future.
Again, this is all alleged, but if players were in fact threatened before the 2022 Masters, Augusta National’s outlook on the situation likely hasn’t changed between then and now.
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This means that Augusta National could very well look to ban LIV golfers from competing in future Masters beginning in 2023. LIV golfers have not been banned from competing in any of the four major championships up to this point.
We have a lot of time between now and next April for Augusta National to make its decision. LIV Golf is playing its own waiting game to see if its players will be awarded world ranking points, which are essential for the majority of players to qualify for each of the four major championships.
The most interesting Masters-specific question here is how will the tournament handle past champions who have joined LIV Golf?
Phil Mickelson, Charl Schwartzel, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, and Dustin Johnson earned a lifetime entry into the event having all won green jackets in the past. Augusta National, a place that celebrates tradition unlike any other sporting venue, slamming the door on past champions would create a firestorm.