LIV golfers don’t show they’re harmed by PGA Tour

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A federal judge who denied temporary injunctions against three LIV Golf players seeking to return to the PGA Tour to compete in FedEx Cup playoffs said the plaintiffs were unable to “even show that they were harm – let alone irreparable.”

Judge Beth Labson Freeman of the U.S. Northern District Court made that assessment in a written ruling released on Thursday. Freeman ruled on Tuesday that the PGA Tour could ban Taylor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford from competing in the FedEx Cup knockouts while they were suspended for appearing in LIV Golf tournaments without a conflicting event release.

“Based on this evidence, [temporary restraining order] Freeman wrote in his ruling that the plaintiffs did not even show that they were harmed – let alone irreparable. what they will leave behind and how much money they will need to make up for those losses.

“The TRO Plaintiffs have signed contracts that reward their talent and make up for lost opportunities through playing TOUR. done through TOUR playing for the same amount of time.”

The three players’ attorneys argued that banning them from the FedEx Cup playoffs would cost them the opportunity to earn Official World Golf Ranking points, which are used to determine exemptions. for four major championships. During Tuesday’s hearing, the players’ attorneys called the playoffs the Super Bowl of professional golf. He said a failure to appear in the knockout round would cost clients’ opportunities to earn income and they would suffer damage to “goodwill, reputation and brand.”

Freeman also disagrees with that argument.

“Plaintiffs counter that they will not be able to repair future sponsorship opportunities and career status marred by Plaintiff TRO’s evidence that LIV Golf offers an ‘incredibly new business model. fan-friendly’ will lead to ‘improved broadcast output and entertainment experience,’ Freeman writes. “If LIV Golf is the future of elite golf, then what does Plaintiff TRO care about the cars? dust collecting trophy of a bygone era?”

Gooch, Jones, Swafford and eight other LIV players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in federal court last week. The trio’s bailout claim to enter the FedEx Cup knockouts is part of that lawsuit. Freeman has scheduled a grand jury trial for September 2023 to review the players’ antitrust claims.

Lawyers for the PGA Tour argued during the hearing that LIV Golf’s early success – it attracted past major tournament champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and others with a reported signing bonus of up to $200 million to participate in the Saudi Arabia-sponsored circuit and will expand to the tournament format with 14 events by 2023 – proof This does not prevent LIV Golf from entering the market.

“The Court acknowledges that Plaintiff TRO raised important antitrust issues on his face,” Freeman concluded in his motion. “But the PGA TOUR responded to preliminary evidence and arguments that likely revealed fundamental flaws in the Plaintiffs’ claims. These complex issues are best resolved on a case-by-case basis. developing more.”

PGA Tour member Billy Horschel said he’s surprised some LIV players think they might return to the Tour.

“I’ve said to a few individuals, I think they’ve been brainwashed by the way they feel too tough and they’re going to be back on the PGA Tour,” Horschel told the Golf Channel. “I’ve had some of them tell me…” I’ll see you Tour again, “and I said, ‘No, you won’t. “Some of them are pretty much brainwashed into how they’re thinking and what they’ve been told.”

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