Phil Mickelson and 10 LIV golfers file antitrust complaint against PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine other golfers on the LIV Golf Tour filed an antitrust lawsuit Wednesday against the PGA Tour challenging the golfers’ suspensions.

The big picture: This is the start of a legal battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, two rival circuits, which could redefine professional golf in the years to come. The Department of Justice has already opened an investigation into the PGA for violating antitrust laws.

Catch up fast: The PGA Tour previously suspended golfers who chose to participate in LIV Golf since the Tour does not allow player releases for tournaments held in North America, The Wall Street Journal reports.

  • Many LIV golfers, including Dustin Johnson, have resigned from the PGA Tour due to the suspensions.

Details: The golfers claim in the new lawsuit that the PGA Tour limits competition.

  • The “conduct of the Tour serves no purpose other than to harm players and prevent the entry of the first significant competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” the golfers claim.
  • “The only conceivable benefit to the Tour of degrading its own product in this manner is the destruction of the competition,” the golfers said.

Enlarge: The lawsuit also includes three players – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – who are hoping to receive a temporary restraining order that would allow them to play in the PGA Tour’s upcoming FedEx Cup playoffs.

  • All three players qualified for the playoffs before signing with LIV Golf, per WSJ. But the PGA Tour said they would be excluded because of their ties to LIV.
  • Mickelson was suspended by the PGA Tour for recruiting players for LIV Golf, according to the lawsuit. The tour said he was barred from seeking reinstatement until March 2024 as he attended his second LIV Golf event.

The other side: The PGA Tour said the suspended players have walked away from the PGA Tour and “now want to come back,” according to a note to players written by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and shared with Axios.

  • These players are “trying to use lawyers to make their way in the competition alongside our members in good standing,” Monahan wrote.
  • “This is an attempt to use the Tour platform to promote yourself and take advantage of your benefits and efforts,” Monahan wrote. “Allowing re-entry into our events compromises the TOUR and the competition, to the detriment of our organization, our players, our partners and our fans.”
  • “It’s your turn,” Monahan wrote to the players, “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 a important aspect of this equation.”

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