California court has officially summoned the head of the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund to appear in court amid the fight between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour.
- The PGA Tour is suing LIV Golf and its main backer, the investment fund of Saudi Arabia, and the court has summoned the head of the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund to appear.
- Governor of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia Yasir bin Othman Al-Rumayyan has 21 days to respond, or the judge will issue a judgment by default against him, according to Forbes.
- The lawsuit alleges that the sovereign-wealth fund of Saudi Arabia owns more than 93% of the LIV Golf circuit, while LIV representatives have continuously stated that the two parties are separate entities and Yasir Al-Rumayyan is just a LIV investor.
- Lawyers for the investment fund have say that bringing Yasir Al-Rumayyan to court would violate Saudi law by dragging in parties subject to sovereign immunity based on allegations, but the court has continued with the summons.
Why it’s news
LIV Golf jumped into the sport taking on the incumbent PGA with billions of dollars—luring away the PGA’s best golfers. The battle was messy: with pro-PGA players denouncing those who left for LIV and in some case promised payments of more than $100 million per year.
The battle continues as the court has officially granted the PGA Tour the right to sue LIV Golf’s Saudi financial backers directly and has summoned the head of the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund to appear in court.
A recent ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California will allow the PGA Tour to add Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, LIV’s financial backer, and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, as defendants in the lawsuit.
LIV has argued that bringing in the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Yasir Al-Rumayyan as defendants would be dragging in parties subject to sovereign immunity based on allegations.
Regardless of the claims from PIF, the court has recently summoned Yasir Al-Rumayyan and given him 21 days to respond, or the judge will issue a judgment by default against him, which will likely be a financial penalty, according to news from Forbes.
LIV golf timeline
June 6 – The first player to defect from the PGA to join LIV was Phil Mickelson. He was reportedly offered $200 million to jump to the new tour, a big number considering he only made $94 million in his career with the PGA.
June 7 – The weekend’s winner and former number-one golfer in the world, Dustin Johnson, jumped on—signing a four-year contract with LIV reportedly worth $125 million. Other big names followed immediately… Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Louis Oosthuizen, Kevin Na, Ian Poulter, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Charl Schwartzel, Lee Westwood, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Brooks Koepka, Abraham Ancer, Matthew Wolff, Paul Casey, and Henrik Stenson.
July 22 – Then LIV secured someone who wasn’t there to swing clubs. Highly popular golf commentator David Feherty joined the action. Shortly after, the league snatched two-time Masters champion, Bubba Watson.
August 1 – LIV tried to obtain golf legend Tiger Woods, but he declined. LIV CEO Greg Norman said Woods turned down a nearly $800-million deal.
Woods voiced his distaste for the players leaving the PGA. “I think that what they’ve done is they’ve turned their back on what has allowed them to get to this position,” he said.
August 3 – Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and nine other LIV golfers filed an antitrust complaint against the PGA Tour. The lawsuit comes after the players were suspended from the PGA Tour over their involvement with the fledgling tour. The golfers were denied by a judge, giving LIV its first defeat.
August 24 – PGA announces new changes that will go into effect in the 2023 season. New structural changes include ranking “top players,” more players and money for the Player Impact Program, and a set number of tournaments. “I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with,” says golfer Lee Westwood, who was suspended from the PGA circuit when he signed on with LIV. “It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing.”August 30 – Most recently, LIV snagged the number two golfer. Cameron Smith left the PGA. Smith is the highest-ranked player to leave the PGA for LIV thus far—after winning The Open Championship in July, the Australian refused to confirm or deny whether he was jumping ship.
November 2022 – LIV’s inaugural season wrapped up, but controversy stuck around.
January 2023 – After struggling to secure a broadcast deal, the controversial LIV Golf has reached a deal to broadcast on the CW Network. Although LIV Golf was well-financed by the Public Invest Fund of Saudi Arabia, it had difficulty competing with the PGA Tour without a broadcast deal. This deal will allow LIV to reach a broader audience and possibly rope more professional golfers from the PGA.
January 2023 – LIV partnered with former President Donald Trump. Three of Trump’s golf courses will be used in LIV Golf’s first official season.The inaugural season will feature 14 events in seven countries at top-rated courses. The tour will return to five venues that hosted previous LIV events, including some Trump-owned properties.
February 2023 – Netflix series Full Swing prominently reports on how the LIV Golf-PGA Tour battle has played out on the course, revealing contentious interviews and discussions with some of the top golfers who have defected from the PGA to LIV.
The court grants the PGA Tour permission to sue the investment fund of Saudi Arabia, which directly backs LIV Golf.
LIV Golf hosts its first tournament of 2023 and its debut on American television broadcasting on The CW with around 289,000 viewers.