A judge in US District Court denied a motion Tuesday afternoon to three LIV Golf members seeking to participate in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, giving the PGA Tour the first victory in the legal battle between the tour and the Saudi-backed circuit.
As part of the lawsuit filed by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine others against the PGA Tour last week, three players—Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones—attempted to get a temporary restraining order to play in this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis. Gooch, Swafford and Jones had argued that the tour had inflicted “irreparable harm” by keeping the players, who had been suspended by the tour for their participation in LIV Golf events, out of the tour’s postseason.
However, in a San Jose courtroom, Judge Beth Freeman sided with the tour.
“LIV contracts are based upon players’ calculation of what they were leaving behind,” Freeman said, adding they had not established a likelihood of success by their merits in the overall antitrust case.
In a two-hour spectacle, lawyers for both LIV Golf and the PGA Tour at times seem to be making cases for the other side. A LIV Golf legal representative called the FedEx Cup the “Super Bowl of golf,” while PGA Tour representation claimed the LIV Golf event at Trump Bedminster had more “elite” players than the field at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. And Judge Freeman appeared to be poking holes in both sides, taking exception with PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan’s ability to have absolute say in suspending players while questioning if, someday, the tour would be the party filing antitrust action against LIV Golf.
In its response to the original TRO motion, the tour had argued that the LIV players were “fabricating an emergency” and questioned the timing of the filing. Judge Freeman did not agree, feeling the filing was timely. But Freeman also said the LIV players are making double what they made on tour, thus hurting the case that the tour suspensions were truly causing harm.
After the ruling Judge Freeman set the timeline for the remainder of the Mickelson vs. PGA Tour lawsuit. The trial, in which LIV Golf asserts antitrust actions by the PGA Tour, is set to begin in September.