Figuring the best defense is a good offense, the PGA Tour punched back and punched back strong against the LIV-exhibition-circus with a count-claim filed this week.
The PGA Tour responded on Wednesday to the antitrust lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court last month with a 71-page motion that included a counterclaim against LIV Golf for contractual interference.
Part of the Tour’s complaint read:
“A key component of LIV’s strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events like The Players and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform.
“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 Tour also claimed that LIV Golf is guilty of restrictive and anticompetitive behavior because of their regulations on league request, contract requirements and social media restrictions.
The Tour’s counter-claim added:
“LIV has signed golfers to multi-year contracts containing obligations that are far more restrictive than anything in the regulations, including a prohibition on participation in conflicting events that, unlike the Tour’s conflicting event rules, does not allow for any request for release.”
More language in the Tour’s complaint hit back against LIV’s filing:
“Through this lawsuit, LIV asks the court to invalidate these wholly legitimate provisions with the stroke of a pen after inducing the remaining player plaintiffs to violate those same regulations with hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi money. The player plaintiffs that have remained in the case – eight of the original eleven players have withdrawn their names from this lawsuit already – want only to enrich themselves in complete disregard of the promises they made to the Tour and its members when they joined the Tour.”
The Tour also argued that while LIV Golf is challenging the circuit’s media rights regulations the start-up league has similar regulations that were “indeed far more restrictive,” than the Tour’s regulations. In the counterclaim, which seeks a jury trial and “damages … including lost profits,” the Tour argues that LIV Golf encouraged players to violate the Tour’s regulations.
“LIV has executed a campaign to pay the LIV players astronomical sums of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the Tour in an effort to use LIV players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities,” the claim read.
The counterclaim also cited Talor Gooch’s contract with LIV Golf, which required he “assist (LIV) in seeking to persuade players to enter into multiyear player participation agreements with (LIV).”
The Tour claimed LIV Golf convinced players “they may openly breach their contractual obligations to the Tour” and misled players into believing they could play both a full LIV Golf schedule and the PGA Tour.
“LIV’s statements regarding golfer freedom are a thinly veiled public relations ploy concocted to disparage the Tour and deflect criticism of LIV’s own restrictive business model,” the claim read.
The Tour also denied it had “blacklisted” any vendor that works with LIV Golf or threatened golf courses if they hosted LIV events.
Discovery in the lawsuit is scheduled to begin this month and the trail is set for January 2024.
This counter-claim was perhaps predicted by Judge Beth Labson when she ruled against LIV last August when Gooch and friends tried to force their way into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
She stated that the PGA Tour might end up suing LIV.
Good prediction by Judge Freeman.
Davis Riley Co-Leads “Run For The Rooster” At Sanderson Farms:
The winner of this week’s Sanderson Farms Championship get to take home the unique “Reveille The Rooster” trophy and the early leader in the race is home-state golfer Davis Riley.
Riley, who is from Hattiesburg, had a clean card on Thursday at the Country Club of Jackson and turned in a six-under par 66.
Riley used only 24 putts, including a nice up-and-down at the 18th to preserve his round. “I didn’t have my best day with the driver,” Riley pointed out. But his putter made up for it.
There was a logjam of players right behind him with five-under par 67s, including Presidents Cup International team member Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Mark Hubbard.
Defending champion Sam Burns opened with a two-under par 70.