Judge denies latest request by LIV Golf and its players in PGA Tour legal battle

A federal judge has denied the latest motion by LIV Golf and three players in their antitrust litigation against the PGA Tour.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 13 Apr 2023
Judge denies latest request by LIV Golf and its players in PGA Tour legal battle

The attention of the golf world last week may have been on seeing who would slip into a green jacket, but quietly the battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour continued in a California courtroom. 

This case is complicated, that goes without saying. At this moment in time, it would not be unreasonable to suggest we are in a war of attrition. 

To catch you up, the latest news is that the judge overseeing the case relented and agreed to push back the trial date to next May after previously appearing reluctant to do so. 

Related: How every LIV Golf pro got on at The Masters

Apparently, things got a bit heated in last Friday's hearing. 

Now the judge has made another order after an interesting request by LIV Golf attorneys. They wanted to split the suit. 

The LIV golfers involved in the case - Bryson DeChambeau, Peter Uihlein and Matt Jones - filed a motion asking to divide the case so there would be separate trials for claims brought against the Tour. 

This was denied by Beth Labson Freeman. 

This comes after LIV's primary backer - the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia  and their governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan - have been asked to provide testimony and share emails and documents relating to their anticompetitive claims. 

Amongst other claims, attorneys for PIF have previously argued LIV had signed a contract with a broadcast network only for that network to back out once the PGA Tour intervened

Freeman had previously ruled PIF and Al-Rumayyan were subject to depositions. 

Attorneys have tried to persuade the judge that PIF and Al-Rumayyan aren't obligated under U.S. law to participate in the legal process given their ties to the Saudi government. 

It was a revelation that has placed further scrutiny on the PIF's ownership of Newcastle United of which Al-Rumayyan is the chairman. 

Freeman and another judge - Susan van Keulen - have taken a dim view of this position, stressing that PIF and Al-Rumayyan's ties to LIV are business-related and not governmental. 

Whether their appeal is heard remains to be seen. Legal commentators have suggested this could take years to resolve. 

To the outsider, this appears to strengthen the position of the PGA Tour given that if LIV continues to add more major champions to their roster and 'compete' with the Tour, it would essentially weaken their claims of anticompetitive conduct. 

In last week's hearing, Freeman reportedly stated that splitting the cases wouldn't necessarily quicken up the legal process. 

Keep checking GolfMagic for your latest LIV Golf, PGA Tour updates. 

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