Bryson DeChambeau said he “personally knows” the PGA Tour will reverse the ban on LIV Golf defectors pending legal proceedings, while veteran Davis Love III says players will boycott the circuit if they are successful.
And now, after weeks of speculation, the next move has happened. Eleven players who joined the Saudi Arabia-backed league, including DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson, have filed an “antitrust lawsuit” against the PGA Tour after they were given indefinite bans for competing in the breakaway series.
LIV’s defectors are seeking an injunction over what they call “anticompetitive restraints to protect its long-standing monopoly”.
Per the lawsuit, three players – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – are also seeking a “temporary restraining order” to play in the Tour’s FedExCup Playoffs, which tee off next week.
Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein are among the other defectors named in the lawsuit, all of which claim have had their “careers and livelihoods” harmed by the PGA Tour following their suspensions.
The lawsuit reads the following: “As the Tour’s monopoly power has grown, it has employed its dominance to craft an arsenal of anticompetitive restraints to protect its long-standing monopoly.
“Now, threatened by the entry of LIV Golf, Inc and diametrically opposed to its founding mission, the Tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of any golfers, including Plaintiffs Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak, and Peter Uihlein, who have the temerity to defy the Tour and play in tournaments sponsored by the new entrant.”
Notable absentees on the lawsuit include Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson.
“The Tour has done so in an intentional and relentless effort to crush nascent competition before it threatens the Tour’s monopoly.”
The lawsuit, reported by WSJ, also states Mickelson was suspended by the PGA Tour back in March for “allegedly recruiting players to play for LIV”. The American was then forbidden from reinstating his status due to competing in LIV’s inaugural event in June. This was then extended to March 2024 for his participation in the breakaway league’s second Invitational in Portland.
In response to the lawsuit, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan immediately issued the following statement to his players:
This is going to get a whole lot more messy.