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The PGA Tour, via its attorneys, has filed a response to the lawsuit raised against it by 11 LIV golfers and particularly Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones, who are seeking entry into the FedEx Cup Playoffs that start this week.
The response claimed that LIV is "prepared to lose billions of dollars" to "sportswash the Saudi government's deplorable reputation for human rights abuses" and that the lawsuit is "legally baseless" per ESPN (opens in new tab). “The Tour's attorneys argued that the players couldn’t “have their cake and eat it too."
The 11 players, that include Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Ian Poulter, filed the antitrust lawsuit last week in an attempt to reverse their suspensions after joining LIV Golf. “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,” it stated.
"LIV is not a rational economic actor, competing fairly to start a golf tour," the PGA Tour's attorneys filed back on Monday. "It is prepared to lose billions of dollars to leverage Plaintiffs [the 11 LIV Golfers raising the case] and the sport of golf to 'sportswash' the Saudi government's deplorable reputation for human rights abuses.
"If Plaintiffs are allowed to breach their TOUR contracts without consequence, the entire mutually beneficial structure of the TOUR, an arrangement that has grown the sport and promoted the interests of golfers going back to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus, would collapse.
"Despite knowing full well that they would breach TOUR Regulations and be suspended for doing so, Plaintiffs have joined competing golf league LIV Golf, which has paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money supplied by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund to procure their breaches,' the reply also stated.
The attorneys wrote that Gooch, Swafford and Jones being re-instated into the FedEx Cup Playoffs would "harm all Tour players that follow the rules" if the three were allowed to tee it up in the Playoffs.
'Plaintiffs now run into Court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the TOUR's season-ending FedExCup Playoffs, an action that would harm all TOUR members that follow the rules. The antitrust laws do not allow Plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too," while also writing that the trio “have waited nearly two full months to seek relief from the Court, fabricating an 'emergency' they now maintain requires immediate action."
A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose, California, where the FedEx Cup Playoffs fates of Gooch, Swafford and Jones are set to be determined.
Elliott Heath is our Senior Staff Writer and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016. He graduated in Sports Journalism in 2016 and currently manages the Golf Monthly news, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. Elliott has interviewed some huge names in the golf world including Sergio Garcia, Thomas Bjorn, Bernd Wiesberger and Scotty Cameron as well as a number of professionals on the DP World and PGA Tours. He has also covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as three Open Championships including at Carnoustie in 2018 when he was inside the ropes with Tiger Woods. He has played 31 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Old Head and Alwoodley. He currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 4-6. His golfing highlight is making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, and he has made one hole-in-one.
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Honma TR20
3 wood: TaylorMade SIM2 Max
2 iron: Mizuno MP-18 MMC Fli-Hi
Irons: Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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