PGA Tour sued over LIV golfers ban, lawsuit claims fans being cheated by ‘anti-competitive’ action
- Action seeking class-action status and claims PGA Tour is depriving fans of ability to watch best players
- LIV golf’s second event will start in the US on Thursday, at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Oregon
The PGA Tour is robbing fans by preventing LIV Golf participants from playing in PGA Tour events, according to a lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County.
The civil lawsuit, filed on behalf of Larry Klayman and against the PGA Tour and its partner, DP World Tour [European Tour], is seeking class-action status and says suspending golfers who play in the LIV tournaments deprives PGA golf fans of seeing some of the best golfers in the world and is “anti-competitive behaviour” in a free-market economy.
The PGA Tour, with headquarters in Ponte Vedra Beach, announced it has suspended 17 golfers, including big names such as Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, who played in the rival LIV Tour debut event in London from June 9 to 11 without a conflicting-event exemption.
The lawsuit claims, in part: “Using the phoney pretext of Saudi financing of the LIV Golf Tour [as the PGA Tour and DP World Tour also significantly benefit from a huge amount of Saudi and Arab money] these defendants have flagrantly sought, through their anti-competitive actions, to harm Florida consumers who would attend PGA Tour and its admitted partner DP World Tour golfing tournaments, by suspending and fining professional golfers who were formerly on these golf tours, simply because they signed up to play in LIV Golf Tour tournaments and events.”
The Saudi-owned LIV Golf Tour, whose CEO is golf legend Greg Norman, is financed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, an arm of the Saudi Arabian government.
The controversy regarding LIV Golf has been framed by some as the Saudi government “sportswashing,” or cleansing via sports, its reputation. The “sportswashing” crowd also accuses LIV Golf members of being active participants in that cleansing.
The LIV Tour is so-called because LIV, in Roman numerals, is 54, the score a golfer would shoot if they birdied every hole of a par-72 course. LIV, or 54, is also the number of holes played during a three-day tournament, which is LIV’s format, as opposed to the four-day format of the PGA Tour.
The LIV Tour hosts its first US event beginning on Thursday at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club outside Portland, Oregon. The eight-event tour played its first tournament last week in London and will have four events in the United States.
The LIV Tour’s championship event will be held from October 27 to 30 at Trump National Doral Miami.