On Wednesday, golf’s great divide widened when 11 LIV Golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
The suit was filed in the US District Court in northern California and alleges the PGA Tour is acting unlawfully in the suspensions it has levied against LIV’s players, which includes Australia’s Matt Jones. Among the 105-page document were five notable claims, including the allegation LIV Golf chief executive and Australian golfing great Greg Norman was denied a meeting with Augusta National. These are our five takeaways from the document:
Fred Ridley turned down a meeting with Greg Norman
The lawsuit alleges Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley “declined” to meet with Norman when he tried to arrange a sit-down with power brokers at the home of the Masters. “When LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman asked Mr. Ridley if he would meet with him to understand LIV Golf’s business model and discuss how LIV Golf could operate in the existing professional golf world, Mr. Ridley declined the invitation—another example of LIV Golf trying to work with existing golfing entities and being turned away before even getting an opportunity to show them what LIV Golf is about,” the suit claimed.
Mickelson was suspended by the PGA Tour
At the Players Championship in March, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan spoke about Mickelson’s controversial remarks (the left-handed great told golf writer Alan Shipnuck he was seeking leverage against the PGA Tour) but avoided confirming whether the Tour had suspended Mickelson. However, the lawsuit clarified six-time Major winner Mickelson was suspended on March 22 but could have applied for reinstatement two months later. Mickelson’s suspension was for “attempting to recruit players” to join the LIV series. On July 23, the Tour extended Mickelson’s suspension for a second time, this time until Mar 31, 2024, after he teed it up in the LIV Golf series opener in London event.
DeChambeau had to backflip
On February 20 this year, DeChambeau released a statement that read, “As long as the best players in the world are playing on the PGA Tour, so will I.” DeChambeau was seen to be staying with the PGA Tour, but had apparently already signed with LIV Golf. According to the lawsuit, the Californian was “forced to publicly profess loyalty to the Tour.” DeChambeau was also allegedly sanctioned by the PGA Tour for “talking to other Tour members about the positive experience he had had with LIV Golf.”
Augusta National’s role
The lawsuit alleged Augusta National was involved in various ways. According to the complaint, Augusta National had representatives speak at an “emergency meeting” of the PGA Tour Advisory Council after the initial announcement of LIV Golf’s London field. The lawsuit also alleges that, “In February, 2022, Augusta National representatives threatened to disinvite players from The Masters if they joined LIV Golf.”
Public comments from golfers were used in the lawsuit
The lawsuit included comments from Rory McIlroy in 2019 – that the European Tour is a “stepping stone” to the PGA Tour – as evidence of the PGA Tour’s dominance in the ecosystem of pro golf. Paul McGinley was also quoted by filings for saying “the [European] Tour has accepted it is a junior partner to the PGA Tour now and will act as a feeder tour with more and more co-sanctioned events on both sides of the pond.”