The PGA Tour is asking a federal judge in San Francisco to dismiss an appeal by three suspended players who joined Saudi-backed LIV Golf and now want to play in the tour’s lucrative playoffs, arguing that the players were in the game two months ago. know the consequences.
Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford are seeking a temporary restraining order. They were one of 10 players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last week.
The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. PDT in San Jose, Calif., two days before the first of three FedExCup playoff games for the $18 million top prize.
The FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, has a $15 million prize pool and the top 70 players advance to the second playoff game in Wilmington, Delaware.
Gooch (No. 20), Jones (No. 65) and Swafford (No. 67) are the nine players to join LIV Golf and finish in the top 125 in the FedExCup standings. The other six who joined LIV Golf didn’t ask for the tour’s playoffs.
In court documents filed Monday against the temporary restraining order, the tour argued that antitrust law would not allow the three players to “eat the cake, too.”
Gooch, Swafford and Jones used the same phrase in separate, legally heavy letters to Tour officials last month, protesting their suspensions and claiming the rules were too onerous for them to be in the league. Play elsewhere.
“I’m a free agent and independent contractor. The Tour can’t be like an employee trying to control me instead of giving me the rights and benefits that an employee would get to get its pie and eat it,” per the letter. all said.
The PGA Tour argued in its motion against: “While fully aware that they would violate Tour rules and be suspended for it, plaintiffs have joined the competitive golf league, LIV Golf, which has paid them tens of millions of dollars. The margin is provided by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.”
These three players aren’t the most sought after players in Greg Norman’s rival league, even though they were among the players who originally signed with LIV Golf. Gucci is the only one in the world’s top 50, mostly from his only PGA Tour title last November.
“Plaintiffs have waited nearly two months to seek relief from the court, which they now consider to be an ’emergency situation’ requiring immediate action,” the filing said. “It doesn’t.”
The tour believes the players knew they would be ineligible for the FedExCup playoffs “when they accepted millions of dollars from LIV in breach of their agreement with the tour.”
Players will not be suspended until the LIV golf event actually kicks off.
The 48-player LIV golf event consists of 54 holes with a total prize pool of $25 million for each event. Seventeen players have won $1 million or more in three or fewer events. With five more events on the schedule this year, LIV Golf has announced a 14-event schedule for 2023.
The next LIV event won’t start until after the PGA Tour season ends at the FedEx Cup in Atlanta’s East Lake, which pays the champion $18 million.
Even though LIV Golf players have been suspended, they are still eligible for FedEx Cup bonuses. Anyone who makes the top 125 will receive $120,000. Those in the top 150, such as Pat Perez and Paul Casey, will get $85,000.
Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia are among the LIV golfers who chose to resign from their PGA Tour memberships. Reed will play in two Asian Tour-International Series events this month.
The lawsuit was filed on August 3 by 11 players. Carlos Ortiz’s manager told The Associated Press that Ortiz is no longer part of the lawsuit, although it has not been reflected in court filings.
“Carlos does not want to be involved in any legal trouble,” his manager, Carlos Rodriguez, said in a text message. “He’s grateful for the opportunity to play on the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour over the past few years.”
Ortiz made nearly $3.5 million in two LIV events, or about 44 percent of his career PGA Tour earnings of 160 events.
Memphis currently has 122 of 125 eligible players in good standing. Three players chose not to play due to injury or schedule.
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