A judge’s ruling will stop three LIV Golf players from playing in PGA matchup.
Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, and Matt Jones qualified for the lucrative PGA’s FedEx Cup Playoffs and its $18 million top prize at the end of the tour’s 2022 season, but were banned from participating for joining the rival Saudi Arabia-financed LIV Golf series. The playoffs start today with the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee.
Each year, PGA members are required to sign a membership renewal. In the agreement players give up media rights and their ability to play in other golf tournaments—at the discretion of the PGA Tour. The golfers sued the PGA series earlier this month for banning them after they joined the controversial LIV Golf. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs took issue with the legality of the practice. They think the PGA Tour is purposely trying to cause “harm” toward them for leaving for a competitor.
U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman sided with the PGA on Tuesday by denying the players’ request to temporarily lift its ban so they could play in the FedEx Cup.
“We’re disappointed that Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones won’t be allowed to play golf,” LIV Golf said in a statement. “No one gains by banning golfers from playing.”
Phil Mickelson and seven other professional golfers also sued the PGA but only Gooch, Swafford and Jones sought their reinstatement for the playoffs while the rest of the lawsuit plays out, says Bloomberg.
Despite the suspensions and the ongoing legal battle, reports are emerging of other PGA golfers joining the rival tour.
The new tour has pulled many big name golfers away from the PGA Tour with promises of hefty checks—creating tremendous tension in the world of golf. For example, LIV will pay Phil Mickelson $200 million to play in the tour, which is nearly double what legend Tiger Woods has earned in prize money during his entire career. LIV gave the world’s number-one golfer Dustin Johnson a four-year, $125 million contract, double his lifetime earnings of $74 million.
Along with players, LIV has also been adding some big names to its broadcast team. In recent weeks popular golf commentator David Feherty joined the startup tour as a broadcast analyst.