Jhe PGA Tour asked a federal judge in San Francisco to reject the appeal of three suspended players who joined Saudi Arabia LIV Golf and now want to make the lucrative playoffs on the tour, arguing the players knew the consequences two months ago.
Talor Gooch, matt jones and Hudson Swafford seek a temporary restraining order. They are among 10 players who filed an antitrust complaint against the PGA Tour last week.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. PDT in San Jose, Calif., two days before the first of three FedEx Cup elimination events in pursuit of the $18 million first price.
The FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, has a $15 million purse, and the top 70 players advance to the second postseason event in Wilmington, Delaware.
Gooch (#20), Jones (#65) and Swafford (#67) are among nine players to join LIV Golf and finish the regular season in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings. The other six who have joined LIV Golf are not asking to play in the tour playoffs.
In a court filing on Monday opposing the temporary restraining order, the tour argued that antitrust laws do not allow the three players “have their cake and eat it too.”
Gooch, Swafford and Jones used the same phrase in separate, legally burdensome letters to tour officials last month protesting their suspensions and claiming the regulations were onerous and prevented them from performing elsewhere.
“I am a free agent and an independent contractor. The Tour can’t have their cake and eat it too while trying to control me like they could with an employeewhile not giving me the rights and benefits that an employee would receive,” each letter read.
The PGA Tour argued in its counter motion: “Despite knowing full well that 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 Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.”
Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf said in a statement: “I believe players have the right to play when and where they want so that their talents can take them as far and high as possible.”
“I believe all players – whether they choose to play with LIV or the PGA Tour – understand and appreciate the purpose and importance of player legal action, across the world,” Norman said. “The PGA Tour tries to portray this as ‘us’ versus ‘them’. The players know best.”
All three players were not among the most wanted players for Norman’s league rivals, although they were among the initial group of players who signed with LIV Golf. Gooch was the only top 50 in the world, mostly since his lone PGA Tour victory last November.
PGA Tour says LIV Golf players knew the consequences
“Plaintiffs have waited nearly two months to seek relief from the Court, the fabrication of an ’emergency’ which they now maintain requires immediate action,” the filing reads. “This is not the case.”
The tour maintains that the player knew he would not be eligible for the FedEx Cup qualifiers “when he accepted millions of LIV to break his deals” with the tour.
Players were not suspended until they actually teeed off at a LIV Golf event.
LIV Golf events, with a 48-player course, consist of 54 holes and offer $25 million in total prizes for each event. Seventeen players have already won $1 million or more in three or fewer events. Five more events remain on this year’s schedule, and LIV Golf has already announced a 14-tournament schedule for 2023.
The next LIV event won’t begin until after the PGA Tour season ends at East Lake in Atlanta with the FedEx Cup, which pays $18 million to champion.
Even though LIV Golf players have been suspended, they remain eligible for the FedEx Cup bonus package. Anyone who finishes in the top 125 gets $120,000. Those who finish in the top 150, like Pat Perez and Paul Caseywould get $85,000.
Dustin Johnson, Patrick Roseau and Sergio Garcia are among LIV Golf players who have elected to resign from their PGA Tour membership. Reed plays two Asian Tour-International Series tournaments this month.
The lawsuit was filed on August 3 by 11 players. The manager for carlos ortiz Told The Associated Press that Ortiz is no longer part of the trial, although that has yet to be reflected in court documents.
“Carlos doesn’t want to get involved in legal battles,” his manager said, Carlos Rodriguez, said in a text message. “He is grateful for the opportunity he had to play on the PGA Tour and Korn ferry Filmed in recent years.”
Ortiz in two LIV events did nearly $3.5 millionapproximately 44% of his PGA Tour golf career revenue comes from 160 tournaments.
The field for Memphis is currently at 122 players of the 125 who are eligible and in good standing. Three players chose not to compete due to injury or schedule.