The PGA Tour is warning LIV Golf that it will seek a default order if the league does not “timely” respond to counterclaims.
- This week, the PGA Tour has filed to California federal judge Beth Labson Freeman seeking a default order against LIV Golf-backer Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (PIF) and its governor Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan if the league does not respond to counterclaims.
- A default order would be a judgment in the PGA Tour’s favor and a game-changer in the case, according to Sportico writer Michael McCann.
- The PGA Tour is suing LIV, PIF, and Al-Rumayyan for tortious interference claiming that they falsely informed PGA players that they could end their contracts without legal action.
Why it’s news
The PGA Tour and LIV Golf have been competing with each other since LIV debuted its league by poaching PGA players—and now the PGA is warning LIV that further legal action will be taken against the league if its representatives do not respond to counterclaims.
Earlier this year, the court granted the PGA Tour permission to sue the investment fund of Saudi Arabia, which directly backs LIV Golf. The lawsuit was initially filed by LIV golfers suing the PGA but has now become a legal battle against the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
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.
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 sovereign immunity, the court ruled that the two parties would have to be present for dispositions and produce any documents needed in the court, but the parties have still not shown.
This week’s court filing states that attorneys for PIF and Al-Rumayyan have been served court documents “in multiple ways,” including through their attorneys. The PGA Tour says it has also served PIF “at its headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with Arabic translations of the summonses and Amended Counterclaims” on March 19, and that the documents were “signed for” by a person at the facility, according to Sportico.
The PGA Tour has also stated that PIF and Al-Rumayyan initially supported the lawsuit when it was suing the PGA, but now that it is reversed and trying to bring the two parties to court, they are ignoring it.
The PGA Tour has asked the judge to grant service on Al-Rumayyan through two email addresses and, for both Al-Rumayyan and PIF, through email and first-class mail on their attorneys and then allowing the defendants to rebut the PGA’s arguments, according to Sportico.
The court date is set for January 8, 2024, but many onlookers predict the date will be pushed back if the two parties continue to disagree.
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 take 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.
February 2023 — The court grants the PGA Tour permission to sue the investment fund of Saudi Arabia, which directly backs LIV Golf.
March 2023 — LIV nightclub in Miami Beach, Florida, has filed a court action to oppose LIV Golf’s trademark registration attempt. Both the golf league and the nightclub use the Roman Numeral for the number 54 in the company logos, and LIV nightclub says the trademarks “are visually, phonetically, and aurally similar, and the goods/services share similarities.”