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After the likes of Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Rory McIlroy pledged their support to the PGA Tour, it seems the threat of the breakaway Saudi Golf League is starting to extinguish slightly. However, some players, like Brooks Koepka, still believe that: "They’ll get their guys," and "somebody will sell out and go to it.”
For PGA Tour Commissioner, Jay Monahan, he has made his intentions clear though, stating that there will be bans for those who join the SGL. However, following Monahan's response, Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf Investments, has penned a letter and seven-point memo accusing the PGA Tour of "bullying."
In the documents, which were, Norman states: "Simply put, your players enjoy the freedom under law to choose how they make a living. In our view and in the eyes of the law, the PGA Tour’s threats are utterly impermissible under competition and other laws."
The two-time Major winner then went on to explain how LIV Golf Investments "have made every effort (1) to present a collaborative outlook and communicate our intent with existing professional sanctioning bodies, and (2) to share how our vision and operation will enhance the game at every level and add momentum to golf’s worldwide standing as a leading supporter of charitable causes".
Also stating that LIV Golf Investment: "Have retained noted antitrust lawyers to advise us on these matters," and that "LIV Golf Investments is on the side of the players. None of us should stand for these egregious acts of bullying by the PGA Tour."
Along with the letter was an attachment titled: "PGA Tour Cannot Ban Players Who Join LIV GOLF". The document, which contained seven bullet points, covered everything from the PGA Tour allegedly violating the Antitrust Laws, to the consequences of banning said players, to the PGA Tour crumbling under public pressure and damaging its relationship with players.
"If the PGA Tour bans permanently players who join LIV Golf it would harm competition in the professional golf marketplace. There is simply no recognized justification for banning independent, contractor professional golfers for simply contracting to play professional golf." said one of the points, with another stating that: "Commissioner Monahan and others, if found to have orchestrated this unlawful monopolistic and conspiratorial conduct, could be found personally liable."
Other notable points included: "Permanently banning from the PGA Tour professional tournament golfers who contract to play professional golf would violate its non-profit purpose and would subject the PGA Tour to possible liability or government action, and could cause it to lose its 501(c)(6) non-profit status for not operating."
And: "LIV GOLF has intrigued players because players are dissatisfied with the status quo on the PGA Tour and are excited about the prospect of a LIV GOLF League, which would offer a new and innovative format that would invigorate and grow the game and create golf fans across the world. If the PGA Tour permanently bans players for the offense of playing golf where they choose, the PGA Tour would destroy any remaining trust with players."
A Tour spokesman declined to comment on the memo, but players were told at Tuesday's mandatory players’ meeting, held ahead of this week’s Honda Classic, that the circuit is confident in their legal stance.
Matt studied Sports Journalism at Southampton Solent University, graduating in 2019. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly and the PGA, he covers all aspects of the game, from Tour news to equipment testing and buyers’ guides. Taking up the game at the age of six, Matt currently holds a handicap of 3 and despite not having a hole in one…yet, he has had two albatrosses. His favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
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