The PGA Tour has asked a federal judge to deny an injunction against three of its suspended members who left to compete in the rival LIV Golf Invitational Series and want to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs, arguing the players could it don’t have their cake and eat it too.”
Members Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford are seeking relief to compete in the playoffs, beginning with this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee.
In a motion filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, attorneys for the PGA Tour called the players’ request for an injunction “legally unfounded.” A hearing to consider the players’ request for a restraining order is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose, California.
“Despite knowing full well that they were violating TOUR regulations and would be suspended for doing so, the plaintiffs have joined rival golf league LIV Golf, which has paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund Procurement has been provided for their violations,” the request reads.[Temporary restraining order] The plaintiffs are now going to court to seek an injunction to force their way into the FedExCup playoffs at the end of the TOUR season, an action that would harm all TOUR members who abide by the rules. Antitrust laws do not allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it.”
In a statement Monday, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman reiterated his circle’s belief that players are free agents and should not be forced to play solely on a tour.
“I believe players have the right to play when and where they want, so their talents can take them as far and high as possible,” Norman said. “I believe that all players – whether they choose LIV or the PGA Tour – understand and appreciate the purpose and importance of legal action by players around the world. The PGA Tour tries to portray this as ‘us’. against them.’ The players know better.”
The three players and eight others, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last week.
“The penalty these players would incur for not being able to play in the FedEx Cup Playoffs is substantial and irreparable,” the golfers’ attorneys wrote in the lawsuit, “and an injunction is required to repair the irreparable damage.” to prevent the consequences this would mean if they cannot participate.”
PGA Tour attorneys noted that Gooch, Jones and Swafford waited almost two months to seek relief from the court.
“It doesn’t,” the tour’s attorneys wrote in the filing. “Their non-attendance at TOUR events was predictable as they accepted millions of LIV to break their agreements with the TOUR and they knew full well that on June 9th they were suspended from monetary damages redress.
“Indeed, several other LIV players, including four other plaintiffs, acknowledge in this case that there is no emergency or irreparable damage; they also qualified to participate in the FedExCup, but have not asked the court for the extraordinary relief sought by that motion. The court should use its equitable powers to resolve genuine emergencies, not fabricated by parties who knowingly accepted multimillion-dollar payouts, to put themselves in the situation they find themselves in.
The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible to compete in the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind. Gooch is 20th overall, Jones is 65th and Swafford is 67th.
“LIV is not a rational economic operator competing fairly to launch a golf tour,” the tour’s attorneys wrote in the filing. “She is willing to lose billions of dollars to get the plaintiffs and the sport of golf to ‘sports launder’ the Saudi government’s deplorable record for human rights abuses TOUR, an arrangement that has propelled the sport and furthered the interests of golfers, dating back to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus would collapse.”
There are currently 122 players fielded for the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Three players who qualified will not take part in the first leg: Tommy Fleetwood (personal), Daniel Berger (back injury) and Lanto Griffin (back surgery).
https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/34368943/pga-tour-files-motion-keep-three-liv-golfers-fedex-cup-playoffs PGA Tour files motion in federal court to keep three LIV golfers out of FedEx Cup playoffs