Six-time major champion Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers on the Saudi-backed
LIV Golf Invitational Series filed an antitrust lawsuit Wednesday to challenge their
suspensions by the PGA Tour.
Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones, who are three of the 11 golfers listed
on the lawsuit, are seeking a temporary restraining order that would allow them to
play in the Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs, which is set to begin next week.
“The Tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of any golfers…who have
the temerity to defy the Tour and play in tournaments sponsored by the new entrant.
The Tour has done so in an intentional and relentless effort to crush nascent
competition before it threatens the Tour’s monopoly,” the complaint says.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced in June that golfers playing in the
controversial breakaway series were suspended and would no longer be eligible to
participate in PGA Tour tournaments.
The lawsuit plaintiffs also include Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos
Ortiz, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein.
The lawsuit says the PGA Tour threatened to place lifetime bans on players who
participate on the LIV golf series, adding that the “unprecedented suspensions” were
placed upon them. The suit also alleges the PGA Tour has threatened sponsors,
vendors and agents to coerce players to abandon opportunities to play in LIV Golf
events access to their members.
In addition, the complaint states the Tour has leaned on other entities in the “so-
called golf ‘ecosystem’ including certain entities that put golf’s ‘Major’s,’ to do its
bidding in its effort to maximize the threats and harm to any golfer who defies the
Tour’s monopolistic requirements and plays in LIV Golf events.”
“The players are right to have brought this action to challenge the PGA’s anti-
competitive rules and to vindicate their rights as independent contractors to play
where and when they choose,” LIV Golf told CNN in a statement. “Despite the PGA
Tour’s effort to stifle competition, we think golfers should be allowed to play golf.”
In response to the lawsuit, Monahan sent PGA Tour players a memo Wednesday,
saying that the golfers who walked away from the Tour now “want back in” and
pledged that the Tour will make its case “clearly and vigorously.”
It’s an attempt to use the TOUR platform to promote themselves and to freeride on
your benefits and efforts,” Monahan wrote in the memo. “To allow reentry into our
events compromises the TOUR and the competition, to the detriment of our
organization, our players, our partners and our fans.”Monahan continued, “This is
your TOUR, built on the foundation that we work
together for the good and growth of the organization…and then you reap the
rewards. It seems your former colleagues have forgotten one important aspect of that
The lawsuit says the plaintiffs have “devoted the bulk of their professional careers to
growing the PGA Tour.” The complaint also states the Tour has done nothing but
“repaid them of late with suspensions, punishments, threats, and disparagement for
merely playing professional golf for another promoter and embracing competition for
The lawsuit alleges that the Tour has “denied them income-earning opportunities,
attacked their goodwill and reputation, interfered with their businesses, attacked
their business partners, threatened them with egregious punishment — including
threats to deny them from participating in golf’s marquee events, even when they
have earned placement or exemptions to participate in those tournaments — and
unlawfully prevented them from exercising their independent contractor rights. And,
at every step, the Tour has repeatedly admitted that it has done this to destroy
The US Justice Department announced in July it was investigating the PGA Tour over
possible antitrust violations involving LIV Golf.
“This was not unexpected,” a PGA Tour spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
“We went through this in 1994, and we are confident in a similar outcome.”
The Justice Department on Wednesday declined to comment.
In June, Monahan indicated LIV represents a serious threat to the success of the PGA
“If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour
can’t compete,” he said.