PGA Countersues LIV Golf For Promoting Contract Breaches
The PGA Tour filed a countersuit against LIV Golf and three players Wednesday, claiming that the Saudi Arabian organization offered “astronomical” salaries to players in order to convince them to breach their old contracts.
It is yet another lawsuit in an ongoing battle between the two tours.
The PGA’s countersuit is in response to a lawsuit filed by LIV and three players for antitrust violations. Responding to LIV players’ claims that the PGA abused its monopoly powers, the PGA responded in its new suit that LIV has “openly sought to damage the Tour’s business relationships with its members by inducing them to breach their contractual requirements, even going so far as to pay members’ legal fees to make breaching their contracts with Tour more enticing.”
The PGA has also claimed that the foundation of LIV is an attempt by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to mask the government’s human rights violations in an act of “sportswashing.”
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$200m for Phil Mickelson
$150m for Dustin Johnson
$125m for Bryson DeChambeau
$100m for Brooks Koepka
$100m for Cameron Smith
That's $675 million from LIV Golf to sign 5 players. The total revenue for the PGA Tour in 2022 is somewhere around $1.5 billion.
— Dan Rapaport (@Daniel_Rapaport) August 9, 2022
The most recent round of legal action first began after the PGA attempted to punish players for breaching their contracts to join LIV. These converted players, most of whom accepted massive salaries, argue that they should be able to represent LIV and continue to appear in major events.
LIV’s desire to integrate with established golf organizations and tournaments is sensible, as it would allow the Saudi tour to shed its outsider status. At first, 11 LIV players were part of the original lawsuit, but eight, most recently Phil Mickelson, Hudson Swafford and Talor Gooch, asked to be removed.
The PGA seems insistent on maintaining the stigma around LIV, having lost a number of top golfers to the tour. Multiple golfers, like Tiger Woods, have also turned down LIV due to the Saudi government’s past transgressions.
Though legal actions may take some time to sort through, the resulting decisions could have a profound impact on the way the PGA addresses LIV defections in the future. In an unrelated story, the Department of Justice’s investigation into LIV’s operations is still ongoing.
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