Judge allows PGA Tour to bar LIV Golf players from 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs

A federal judge on Tuesday denied a temporary restraining order, allowing the PGA Tour to restrict access to the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs to three Saudi-backed LIV Golf players who filed a lawsuit hoping to participate in the post-season competition. Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford will not play in any of the three tournaments as the PGA Tour’s motion to deny was granted by US District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman.

“It appears to the court that the LIV contracts, negotiated by the players and entered into between the parties, were based on the calculation by the players of what they would leave behind and how much the players would need to monetize to make up for those losses. , “said Judge Freeman in her decision. “I agree with [the PGA Tour] that these losses were well known to players at the time and clearly monetized.”

Citing the LIV golfers’ inability to prove irreparable harm in their case, Judge Freeman added: “The evidence shows that it seems almost without question that they will win more than they won and that they could reasonably have expected to win in a reasonable time. duration under the PGA. »

The ruling in a Northern District of California courtroom gives the PGA Tour its first clear win over LIV Golf. The decision comes two days before play begins at the 2022 St. Jude Championship to kick off the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Gooch (#20), Jones (#65) and Swafford (#67) will not be able to capitalize on their respective positions in the FedEx Cup standings; all on track to not only compete in this week’s event in Memphis, but also next week’s BMW Championship, where the top 70 players will qualify. Gooch was in a strong position to finish in the top 30, which would have put him in the Tour Championship where byes for the Masters, US Open and next year’s Open are scheduled.

“With today’s news, our players, fans and partners can now focus on what really matters over the next three weeks: the best players in the world competing in the FedExCup Playoffs,” said the PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan in a statement.

A group of 10 LIV golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau – initially 11 until Carlos Ortiz dropped his name from the proceedings – filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court last week hoping to be cleared to play on the PGA Tour again. The PGA Tour insisted golfers made a conscious decision to leave its membership when they chose to play for LIV. Therefore, these golfers were ineligible to participate in future PGA Tour events.

Judge Freeman agreed, citing the PGA Tour’s position that golfers knew the consequences of their decision to play for LIV Golf.

“Despite knowing full well they would violate Tour rules and be suspended for it, the plaintiffs joined rival golf league LIV Golf, which paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money. provided by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund to procure their defaults,” the PGA Tour said in its motion. “[Temporary restraining order] the plaintiffs are now going to court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the Tour’s season-ending FedEx Cup playoffs, an action that would harm all Tour members who play by the rules. Antitrust laws don’t allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too.”

While the PGA Tour won that judgment, the legal fight between the leagues is expected to continue as the broader antitrust lawsuit has yet to be decided. The beginning of this legal saga dates back to June 9 when the PGA Tour suspended members who had participated in the inaugural LIV Golf event in London. Some chose to resign from their PGA Tour memberships, while others aimed to fight for a chance to play in both leagues.

“They made the business decision to receive the money,” said PGA Tour attorney Elliot Peters. “They’ve made – in the last two months – more money than they’ve ever made on the PGA Tour. They’ve already been paid to make up for what they’re complaining about here.”

LIV Golf members will now turn their attention to Boston for the league’s next event, scheduled for September 2-4.

LIV golfers will not be allowed to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs after a court ruling on Tuesday. Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter and Sia Nejad break it all down. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple podcast and Spotify.

Michael C. Ford