PGA Tour countersuit claims LIV Golf induced golfers to breach existing contracts by offering ‘astronomical sums of money’

The PGA Tour filed a counterclaim against LIV Golf on Wednesday, alleging that the Saudi Arabian-funded circuit interfered with existing contracts with its members.

The counterclaim was filed as part of the PGA Tour’s response to LIV Golf’s state antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, in which LIV Golf alleges that the PGA Tour illegally banned players from participating in LIV Golf tournaments and used its monopoly power to to suppress competition.

The Tour alleges that LIV Golf ran a campaign to pay its players “astronomical sums of money to get them to break their contracts with the Tour in order to take advantage of the LIV players and the game of golf to make recent history.” of Saudi atrocities and to advance the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Vision 2030 initiatives.”

The PGA Tour argued that LIV Golf officials notified players that their agreements with the PGA Tour were unenforceable, while entering into their own agreements with LIV players that “impose contractual restrictions on LIV players that The scope and duration are more onerous than those of the Tour regulations they are contesting.”

The motion included a text message that Greg Norman, CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, allegedly sent to Spaniard Sergio Garcia, in which Norman wrote: “They can’t ban you for a day let alone for life. It’s a shallow threat. Ask them to do it in writing for you or another player. I bet they don’t. I am happy when someone speaks to our legal team to better understand that they have no chance of enforcement.

In the filing, the PGA Tour alleges that its players’ handbook and tournament regulations, which enabled it to ban more than two dozen members from attending LIV golf events, contribute to its success and generate increased sponsorship and broadcast revenue, resulting in a Boost carries prize money and benefits for its players.

“Through this lawsuit, LIV is asking the court to invalidate these perfectly legitimate provisions with the stroke of a pen after causing the remaining player plaintiffs to violate the same provisions with hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi money,” the PGA’s filing reads Trip. “The player plaintiffs who have remained in the case – eight of the original 11 players have already withdrawn their names from that lawsuit – are out to get rich only, in complete disregard of the promises they made to the tour and its members when they joined the trip.”

On Tuesday, six-time Major winner Phil Mickelson and three other players — Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford and Talor Gooch — petitioned a judge to remove them as plaintiffs in the antitrust case. Four other players originally involved in the lawsuit — Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez and Jason Kokrak — are also no longer involved in the case.

Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein remain as plaintiffs in the case alongside LIV Golf.

“The Tour made these counterclaims in a transparent attempt to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct, which LIV and the players detail in their 104-page complaint,” LIV Golf said in a statement Thursday. “We remain confident that the courts and judicial system will right these injustices.”

The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the PGA Tour’s alleged monopolistic actions in dealings with LIV Golf and its players – allegations the Tour has denied.

“[T]there is no actual harm to the plaintiffs and no violation of the law,” PGA Tour attorneys argued in the filing. LIV has held numerous full-field events and announced a full season for 2023. Both LIV and the Players Plaintiffs poured the financial cost of their suspensions into LIV’s exorbitant signing bonuses, making the Players Plaintiffs complete. While LIV and the Players’ Plaintiffs are challenging the tour’s media rights and conflicting event policies as anti-competitive, LIV imposes similar — in fact, far more restrictive — conditions on its players, and the Players’ Plaintiffs have agreed to them.

“This case is not about unfair competition – if someone competes unfairly, it’s LIV, not the Tour. Instead, it’s a cynical attempt to avoid competition and capitalize on the Tour’s investment in the development of professional golf. Plaintiffs’ allegations are baseless and have absolutely no legal merit.” PGA Tour countersuit claims LIV Golf induced golfers to breach existing contracts by offering ‘astronomical sums of money’

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