Saudi-funded LIV Golf has joined an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour after an amended complaint named four players.
This leaves seven players, notably Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau with LIV Golf, as plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The four named are Carlos Ortiz, Abraham Anser, Pat Perez and Jason Kokrak.
The amended complaint was filed Friday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Northern California. The three players still on the charge — Matt Jones, Talor Goch and Hudson Swafford — previously sought a temporary restraining order from playing in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
The judge denied their request two weeks ago.
The lawsuit alleges that the PGA Tour used its monopoly power to suppress competition and unfairly ban players.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman said he fully supports the players in any legal action they may take. LIV Golf, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, is now directly involved.
In the amended complaint, LIV Golf argued that if it does not make good decisions, its “ability to maintain meaningful competitiveness in the markets will be lost.”
LIV Golf says the PGA Tour bans have forced it to increase its spending on signing players and avoid those who fear the threat of fines. The tour has forced LIV Golf to delay operations for 2022 and have a smaller schedule in the first year, he said.
In addition to the $25 million in prize money at each event, LIV Golf has offered several big name signing fees that are said to be worth $150 million or more. LIV Golf has organized three tournaments so far. The fourth is next weekend outside Boston.
The amended complaint alleges that LIV Golf, despite “high costs” and reduced access to players, has started the tour, “facing headwinds of this nature is unsustainable.”
The PGA Tour is right-handed because its members need a conflicting event release to play overseas, and no releases are granted for North American events. Five such LIV events are on the schedule this year.
The tour has banned players competing in LIV Golf without release — none have been granted — and most of the bans last until March 2024.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman denied the temporary restraining order, saying that LIV Golf had not shown irreparable harm because the players signed and received prize money, and that there were no PGA Tour rules to ban players in this case. Unreasonable.
Freeman scheduled a summary judgment hearing for July 23, 2023 and a tentative trial date for January 8, 2024.
LIV Golf has signed two dozen PGA Tour players and will add as many as six more after the PGA Tour wraps up its season Sunday at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.