The PGA Tour has filed a countersuit in response to LIV Golf’s antitrust lawsuit, claiming that the rival Saudi-backed circuit has encouraged its members “to breach their Tour agreements” and “free ride off of the Tour’s investment in the development of professional golf.”
The countersuit was filed in a federal court in northern California on Wednesday in response to the amended lawsuit, which now includes LIV Golf and just three of the original 11 plaintiffs that first filed the lawsuit back in August.
“Indeed, a key component of LIV’s strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events like The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform,” the countersuit reads, via Golf Week.
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“LIV has openly sought to damage the Tour’s business relationships with its members by inducing them to breach their contractual requirements, even going so far as to pay members’ legal fees to make breaching their contracts with Tour more enticing.”
Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter and Hudson Swafford filed a motion on Tuesday to be dismissed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit accusing the PGA Tour of unfairly suspending its members and using monopoly power to try to squash competition.
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But the Tour claimed Wednesday that LIV Golf has acted “unfairly” in luring in players with its lucrative signing bonus and false promises of being able to compete in both circuits.
“LIV’s statements regarding golfer freedom are a thinly veiled public relations ploy concocted to disparage the Tour and deflect criticism of LIV’s own restrictive business model,” the claim read.
“This case is not about unfair competition — if anyone is competing unfairly, it is LIV, not the Tour. Instead, it is a cynical effort to avoid competition and to free ride off of the Tour’s investment in the development of professional golf. Plaintiffs’ allegations are baseless and entirely without legal merit.”
LIV released a statement of its own:
“The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct, which LIV and the players detail in their 104-page complaint,” said Jonathan Grella, LIV Golf's top spokesperson. “We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs.”
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Only three of the original plaintiffs remain: Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein. The trail date is set for January 2024.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.