The PGA Tour has asked a federal judge to deny a temporary restraining order to three of its suspended members, who left to compete on the rival LIV Golf Invitational Series and seek to participate in the FedEx Cup playoffs, arguing that the players cannot “have.” their cake and eat it too.”
The three suspended members, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swaffordis seeking relief from a federal judge to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs, starting with the FedEx St. Jude Championship this week in Memphis, Tennessee.
In a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Monday, lawyers representing the PGA Tour called the players’ request “legally baseless.” A hearing to consider the players’ motion for a temporary restraining order is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose, California.
“Despite knowing full well that they would violate TOUR Regulations and be suspended for doing so, the plaintiffs joined competing golf league LIV Golf, which paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money provided by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to afford them. their breaches,” the motion said. “[Temporary restraining order] Plaintiffs now face a 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 who follow the rules. The antitrust laws do not allow the plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too.”
In a statement on Monday, CEO of LIV Golf Greg Norman reiterated his circuit’s belief that players are free agents and should not be forced to play exclusively on one tour.
“I believe that players should be allowed to play when and where they choose, so that their talents can take them as far and as high as possible,” Norman said. “I believe that all players — whether they choose to play with LIV or the PGA Tour — understand and appreciate the purpose and importance of the legal actions of the players around the world. The PGA Tour is trying to cast this as ‘us’ vs. ‘them.’ The players know better.”
“The penalty that would accrue to these players by not being able to play in the FedEx Cup Playoffs is substantial and irreparable,” the golfers’ attorneys wrote in the lawsuit, “and temporary incarceration is necessary to prevent the irreparable harm that would result.” if they could not participate.”
The lawyers of the PGA Tour noted that Gooch, Jones and Swafford waited almost two months to seek relief from the court, “fabricating an ’emergency’ that they now maintain requires immediate action.”
“No,” the tour’s lawyers wrote in the motion. “Their ineligibility for TOUR events was foreseeable when they accepted millions from LIV for violating their agreements with the TOUR, and they knew full well that they were suspended on June 9. The damage they now claim as a result of their suspensions is 100% economical and capable of repairing with world damage.
“Indeed, several other LIV players including four other Plaintiffs in this case recognize that there is no emergency or irreparable harm; they also qualified to play in the FedExCup but did not ask the Court for the extraordinary relief sought by this motion. The Court should. use its equitable powers to compensate real crises, not realized by parties who knowingly accepted multi-million payouts to put themselves in the situation they are in.”
The top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings are eligible to compete in the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind. Gooch is 20th in the standings, Jones is 65th and Swafford is 67th.
“LIV is not a reasonable economic actor, fairly competing to start a golf tour,” the tour’s lawyers wrote in the motion. “It is prepared to lose billions of dollars to use Plaintiffs and the sport of golf to ‘wash’ the Saudi government’s deplorable reputation for human rights abuses. If Plaintiffs are allowed to breach their TOUR contracts without consequence, all the mutually beneficial structure of the TOUR, an arrangement that grew the sport and promoted the interests of golfers returning to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklauswould collapse.”
There are 122 players currently in the field for the FedEx St. Jewish Championship. Three players who qualified do not participate in the first stage of the playoffs: Tommy Fleetwood (personal), Daniel Berger (back injury) and Lanto Griffin (back surgery).