Huge L for LIV Golf as judge rules PGA Tour CAN depose Saudi wealth fund leader!

A federal judge has ruled the leader of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, which bankrolls LIV Golf, can be deposed by PGA Tour attorneys.

Ben Smith's picture
Fri, 17 Feb 2023
Huge L for LIV Golf as judge rules PGA Tour CAN depose Saudi wealth fund leader!

A federal judge has ruled the leader of Saudi Arabia's wealth fund - which bankrolls the LIV Golf League - can be deposed. 

According to reporting by The New York Times, the decision was released on 16 February. 

It is expected that attorneys representing Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund will ask for the decision to be reviewed. 

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In her 58-page ruling, district judge Susan van Keulen wrote that it was "plain" the wealth fund was not just "a mere investor in LIV". 

She wrote LIV was: 

"The moving force behind the founding, funding, oversight and operation of LIV." 

Of Al-Rumayyan, who is also the chairman of Premier League football club Newcastle United, the judge wrote that he was "personally involved in and carried out many" of the wealth fund's activities to create and develop the breakaway tour. 

In January, attorneys representing the PGA Tour sought to add Saudi Arabia's PIF and its governor Al-Rumayyan as defendants in their countersuit

They accused Al-Rumayyan to have personally recruited PGA Tour players and played an active role in contract negotiations. 

Moreover, PGA Tour attorneys argued that Al-Rumayyan gave his personal assurances to one player about receiving backing in any subsequent legal disputes for joining LIV. 

Al-Rumayyan is an avid golf fan and is part of the inner circle of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

It was previously revealed that PIF owns 93 per cent of LIV and pays all of the costs associated with its events. 

Court documents also confirmed the inaugural LIV Golf Invitational Series generated "virtually zero" revenue in its first year. 

Previous motions by LIV attorneys argued the PGA Tour was exaggerating the role of PIF and Al-Rumayyan. 

LIV lawyers also argued Saudi Arabia's wealth fund had sovereign immunity and therefore Al-Rumayyan couldn't be questioned under oath. 

The legal battles began last August when Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and 11 professional golfers filed an antitrust lawsuit. 

Now only three players - DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein - remain involved in the litigation. 

The eight other players dropped out of proceedings after LIV Golf added themselves as a plaintiff. 

The PGA Tour countersued LIV Golf in September. 

In court documents, they wrote: 

"LIV has executed a campaign to pay the LIV players astronomical sums of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the Tour in an effort to use the LIV players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities and to further the Saudi Public Investment Fund's Vision 2030 initiatives". 

Saudi Vision 2030 is a "strategic framework to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil and diversify its economy". 

LIV Golf will begin their second campaign next week. Their 14-event $405m season starts in Mexico. 

District court judge Beth Labson Freeman would oversee the review of this decision. 

She has already ruled against three LIV players who sought to participate in the FedEx Cup Playoffs last summer via a temporary restraining order. 

The trial is not expected to happen until January 2024.

Next page: DP World official calls for truce between warring tours