PGA Tour hits back at LIV lawsuit, ‘former colleagues’ in fiery memo
Just minutes after LIV golfers’ lawsuit against the PGA Tour was made public, the PGA Tour sent its players a memo informing them of the suit and pushing back against the case of the 11 suspended PGA Tour players behind it.
The memo, sent from Tour commissioner Jay Monahan to current Tour members, listed the 11 players alphabetically by name: Abraham Ancer, Bryson DeChambeau, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones, Jason Kokrak, Phil Mickelson, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Ian Poulter, Hudson Swafford and Peter Uihlein.
The antitrust suit was filed with the assertion that the PGA Tour should not have been able to suspend its players for competing in LIV events or for recruiting others to join LIV. Included in the lawsuit are assertions that Mickelson was suspended from the Tour on March 22 and is now ineligible for reinstatement until 2024. (Other players have been suspended on similar timelines and face additional sanctions should they continue to play LIV events.) As laid out by the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of the suit, its antitrust assertions could have broader implications for what sort of control a sports league can exercise over the actions of its competitors.
Three of those players — Gooch, Jones and Swafford — are comfortably inside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings and therefore would be eligible for the playoffs, were they not suspended. They’re seeking a temporary restraining order to play anyway in an attempt to finish out the season and earn additional FedEx Cup prize money. Monahan’s memo said this filing came “despite knowing they would be ineligible for tournament play as early as June, and of course, the year’s worth of communication in advance of their decision to join the Saudi Golf League.”
Monahan added that the PGA Tour has been preparing for the lawsuit and that Tour pros “should be confident in the legal merits of our position.”
“Fundamentally, these suspended players — who are now Saudi Golf League employees — have walked away from the Tour and now want back in. With the Saudi Golf League on hiatus, they’re trying to use lawyers to force their way into competition alongside our members in good standing,” the memo read.
Monahan suggested in no uncertain terms that the suit was an attempt for LIV golfers to have it both ways and that for Tour members it meant an attempt to “promote themselves and freeride on your benefits and efforts.”
He said the memo was a continuation of the Tour’s transparency throughout the process, encouraged Tour players to reach out with further questions and also encouraged them to speak publicly, “if you are so inclined.”
“This is your Tour, built on the foundation that we work together for the good and growth of the organization…and then you reap the rewards. It seems your former colleagues have forgotten one important aspect of that equation,” he concluded.
The memo was notable for its timing, as the FedEx Cup playoffs begin next week. It was notable for its verbiage, including Monahan’s insistence on referring to LIV as the “Saudi Golf League.” It was notable for his call for players to speak out publicly, an uncommon response to ongoing legislation. And it was notable because the PGA Tour chose to project strength and confidence in its defense, suggesting the battle here is just beginning.
You can read the complete memo below: