PGA Tour accuses three LIV golfers of ‘fabricating’ emergency to compete in playoffs

PGA Tour accuses three LIV golfers of ‘fabricating’ emergency to compete in playoffs

A general view of the 18th green at the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational at Centurion Club, Hemel Hempstead June 8, 2022. — Reuters pic

Tuesday, 09 Aug 2022 5:21 AM MYT

NEW YORK, Aug 9 — The PGA Tour issued a stern rebuke in a court filing on Monday to three suspended golfers seeking to compete in the FedExCup playoffs, despite joining the LIV Golf circuit.

Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones had filed a temporary restraining order so they could participate in the FedexCup playoffs, which begin this week, after the PGA Tour blocked competitors who left for the Saudi-backed venture from playing in its tournaments. A hearing is set for Tuesday.

The PGA Tour accused the three plaintiffs of “fabricating an emergency” by waiting two months to seek relief from the court.

“(They) have known since June 9 — and indeed earlier — that they would violate the tour’s regulations and forfeit their ability to play in the FedExCup Playoffs in exchange for accepting massive payments from LIV Golf,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

The US$255 million (RM1.1 billion) LIV series is being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, with critics calling it a means to improve the country’s human rights record.

LIV Golf did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was not immediately able to reach the individual players for comment.

The PGA Tour said in the court filing that golfers knowingly violated its rules when they joined the LIV Golf circuit.

The PGA Tour last month left LIV golfers off its new playoffs eligibility list, which omitted those who were suspended but have not resigned from the tour.

Last month the US Justice Department said it was investigating whether the PGA Tour broke antitrust law in fighting off LIV Golf.

Eleven golfers who compete with LIV Golf, led by six-times major winner Phil Mickelson, sued the tour last week for blocking their participation in PGA tournaments, calling it “part of its carefully orchestrated plan to defeat competition.” Elliot Peters, lead counsel for the PGA Tour in this dispute, said in a statement: “For enormous sums of cash supplied by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, plaintiffs willfully breached their agreements with the PGA Tour.

“The players’ purported harm is entirely self-induced. We will litigate this case vigorously to preserve the reputation of the PGA Tour and protect the benefits it offers to players.” — Reuters