LIV golfers didn’t show they were harmed by PGA Tour

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The federal choose who denied momentary restraining orders to 3 LIV Golf gamers who wished to return again to the PGA Tour to compete within the FedEx Cup playoffs mentioned the plaintiffs didn’t “even show that they have been harmed — let alone irreparably.”

United States District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman, of the Northern District of California, made that evaluation in her written ruling that was launched on Thursday. Freeman dominated on Tuesday that the PGA Tour may ban Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford from competing within the FedEx Cup playoffs whereas they were suspended for showing in LIV Golf tournaments with out conflicting-event releases.

“Based on this evidence, [temporary restraining order] Plaintiffs have not even shown that they have been harmed — let alone irreparably,” Freeman wrote in her ruling. “It is clear that the LIV Golf contracts negotiated by the TRO Plaintiffs and consummated between the parties were based on the players’ calculation of what they would be leaving behind and the amount of Money they would need to compensate for those losses.

“TRO Plaintiffs have signed contracts that richly reward them for his or her expertise and compensate for misplaced alternative by means of TOUR play. In truth, the proof reveals virtually indubitably that they might be incomes considerably extra Money with LIV Golf than they may moderately have anticipated to make by means of TOUR play over the identical time interval.”

Lawyers for the three players argued that prohibiting them from competing in the FedEx Cup playoffs would negate them of opportunities to earn Official World Golf Ranking points, which are used to determine exemptions and fields for the four major championships. During Tuesday’s hearing, the players’ attorney referred to the playoffs as the Super Bowl of professional golf. He said not appearing in the playoffs would cost his clients income-earning opportunities and that they would suffer losses to “goodwill, status and model.”

Freeman disagreed with that argument as well.

“Plaintiffs’ rivalry that they will irreparably lose future sponsorship alternatives and profession standing is undermined by TRO Plaintiffs’ proof that LIV Golf gives a refreshing new ‘extraordinarily fan-friendly’ Business mannequin that may result in ‘an improved broadcast output and leisure expertise’ in comparison with the staid outdated golf world constructed by PGA TOUR,” Freeman wrote. “If LIV Golf is elite golf’s future, what do TRO Plaintiffs care in regards to the dust-collecting trophies of a bygone period?”

Gooch, Jones, Swafford and eight other LIV players, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in federal court last week. The trio’s request for relief to participate in the FedEx Cup playoffs was part of that lawsuit. Freeman has scheduled a jury trial for September 2023 to consider the players’ antitrust claims.

PGA Tour lawyers argued during the hearing that LIV Golf’s early success — it has lured past majors champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and others with signing bonuses reportedly worth as much as $200 million to join the Saudi Arabia-financed circuit and will expand to a league format with 14 events in 2023 — proves it is not preventing LIV Golf from entering the market.

“The Court acknowledges that TRO Plaintiffs increase important antitrust points which might be facially interesting,” Freeman concluded in her motion. “But PGA TOUR has responded with preliminary proof and argument probably exposing basic flaws in Plaintiffs’ claims. These complicated points are finest resolved on a extra developed file.”

PGA Tour member Billy Horschel said he was surprised that some LIV players thought they could come back to the Tour.

“I mentioned to a few of the guys personally, I feel they’ve been brainwashed by the way in which they really feel so adamant that they’re going to be again out on the PGA Tour,” Horschel told the Golf Channel. “I’ve had a few of them inform me … ‘I’ll see you Tour once more,’ and I say, ‘No, you will not.’ A few them are fairly brainwashed in the way in which they’re pondering and what they’ve been advised.”

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