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When LIV Golf officially launched there were two things guaranteed to happen: it was going to get criticized into oblivion and at some point, there would be lawsuits.
Wednesday, exactly 55 days after the first LIV Golf tournament began, the first known lawsuit has arrived.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine other LIV golfers have filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. The lawsuit was filed to challenge the PGA Tour indefinitely suspending all LIV golfers, which the Tour announced that decision during the first round of the inaugural LIV tournament.
“The Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and foreclose the entry of the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” the lawsuit reads in part.
PUBLIC REPORTS SHOW PGA TOUR HAS PAID NEARLY $200K TO LOBBY CONGRESS, BIDEN AGAINST LIV GOLF AND OTHER ISSUES
One of the biggest headlines to come from the new lawsuit involves Mickelson and the controversial comments he made back in mid-February. Many suspected Mickelson had been suspended by the Tour following his remarks, and that the break he took from the game was essentially a forced one by the PGA Tour. The lawsuit alleges just that.
The suit says that Mickelson was suspended in March for allegedly recruiting players to play for LIV. He appealed this suspension, but it was denied. The suit claims the Tour said he was forbidden from applying for reinstatement until March 2023, which was extended until March 2024 after he played the second LIV event in Portland.
“They’re scary motherfuckers to get involved with,” Mickelson told Alan Shipnuck back in February. “We know they (Saudis) killed [Washington Post reporter and U.S. resident Jamal] Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights. They execute people over there for being gay.”
“Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
Some Players Seeking Restraining Order In Order To Play In The FedEx Cup Playoffs
Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, and Hudson Swafford are three players included in the group and are specifically seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow them to play in the Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.
The Top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings qualify for next week’s opening playoff event in Memphis. Gooch, Jones, and Swafford each sit comfortably inside the Top 125, but the Tour won’t allow them to tee it up.
Gooch, Swafford, and Jones argue in the suit that the Tour violated its own disciplinary process when it told them they wouldn’t be allowed to play in the first playoff event with their appeals are pending in court.
Some LIV golfers, including Dustin Johnson, resigned their PGA Tour memberships after joining the Saudi-backed circuit. Johnson’s name is not on the lawsuit.
This player-led lawsuit comes one month after the Department of Justice opened an investigation of the PGA Tour to determine if it has engaged in “anticompetitive behavior” with LIV Golf.
PGA Tour players that wanted to play in LIV Golf’s first event requested a release to do so. This is standard practice for any Tour players who have wished to compete on other tours in the past, such as the DP World Tour.
Tour players are typically granted three releases a season if they meet certain expectations on Tour, but the Tour did not grant the LIV golfers a release.
Players who elected to go to London to play in the first LIV Golf event, or have played in a LIV event since were hit with indefinite suspensions.
Peter Uihlein, Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, and Jason Kokrak round out the group of 11 golfers that have put their names on the lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris