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PGA Tour countersues LIV Golf in escalating antitrust fight

Signs are posted at the LIV golf tournament on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois.
Brian Cassella | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

The PGA Tour filed a countersuit against LIV Golf late Wednesday, alleging that the Saudi-backed upstart league is guilty of anti-competitive practices.

The suit is the latest volley in the battle between the legacy PGA Tour and upstart LIV, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s deep-pocketed Private Investment Fund and has been aggressive in wooing talent. Several high-profile golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, have signed massive contracts to join LIV Golf. Tiger Woods reportedly turned down an LIV offer worth almost $800 million.

Both leagues have claimed that the other’s player contracts and policies limit restrict golf talent and prevent proper competition.

“LIV has signed golfers to multi-year contracts containing obligations that are far more restrictive than anything in the [PGA Tour] Regulations, including a prohibition on participation in conflicting events that, unlike the TOUR’s conflicting event rules, does not allow for any request for release,” the PGA Tour said in its filing Wednesday.

The PGA Tour declined to comment on its countersuit.

The tour has been lobbying in Washington D.C. against LIV Golf. In turn, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a former PGA Tour star, visited Capitol Hill in mid-September to “educate members on LIV’s business model and counter the Tour’s anti-competitive efforts.”

LIV Golf, Phil Mickelson and other players filed a suit against the tour when LIV-affiliated players were suspended from tour events. Mickelson and three others dropped out of the suit Tuesday, but LIV Golf remains a plaintiff in the case.

“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.”

The Justice Department began probing the PGA Tour in July in search of possible anti-competitive behavior.

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