Phil Mickelson and 10 other golfers filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour on Wednesday after the PGA Tour suspended them and banned other players who joined the LIV Golf International Series from participating in any PGA Tour events.
The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Other golfers involved in the lawsuit against the PGA Tour include Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch. Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones.
“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 alleges.
“The purpose of this action is to strike down the PGA Tour’s anticompetitive rules and practices that prevent these independent-contractor golfers from playing when and where they choose,” that lawsuit continues.
In June 2022, the PGA Tour released a statement saying that players would be suspended from playing in PGA Tour events if they played in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.
The PGA Tour didn’t immediately respond to comment on this story.
The LIV Golf circuit is led by former pro golfer Greg Norman and aims to challenge the PGA Tour. The league is an eight-tournament circuit that features seven regular-season tournaments and one team event in October — events will be played in places including Boston, Chicago, Bangkok, Saudi Arabia and Miami.
“We welcome good, healthy competition,” PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said in June. “The LIV Saudi Golf League is not that. It’s an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.”
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Golfers have been criticized for joining LIV Golf because it is backed by the Saudi Arabia sovereign-wealth fund.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Saudi Arabia has been accused in recent years of multiple human rights violations, including: unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced disappearances; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of prisoners and detainees by government agents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; and taking political prisoners or detainees, among other offenses.
LIV Golf was also in the news this week after the league’s CEO, Norman, admitted that golf legend Tiger Woods was offered in the “neighborhood” of $800 million to join the league last year. Woods declined that offer and still plays at PGA Tour events.
“I disagree with it,” Woods said in July 2022 about golfers leaving the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position.”
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In addition to Woods, other golfers were offered large amounts of money to join the league. Phil Mickelson was reportedly offered $200 million just to play in the league, and Dustin Johnson was reportedly offered $150 million to play. Those amounts would be simply for participation, in addition to any tournament winnings. Both Mickelson and Johnson accepted those offers and joined LIV Golf.
The most recent LIV golf tournament was held at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, at the former president’s course in New Jersey.
Some have criticized former President Trump for hosting the recent LIV tournament at his golf course, including a group of 9/11 families who sent him a letter asking him to “reconsider.”
After the 9/11 families reached out to Trump, the former president said “I don’t know much about the 9/11 families. I don’t know what is the relationship to this, and their very strong feelings, and I can understand their feelings. I can’t really comment on that because I don’t know exactly what they’re saying, and what they’re saying who did what.”
Trump has recently said that professional golfers will “pay a big price” if they don’t join the LIV series.