LIV Golf League take massive L in latest legal twist in antitrust case

LIV Golf have taken a hit in their antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour after a judge ruled attorneys cannot expand discovery to include Augusta members.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 31 Jan 2023
LIV Golf League take massive L in latest legal twist in antitrust case

LIV Golf have taken a hit in their antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, according to the Associated Press

That is because a federal judge has denied a request by LIV Golf's attorneys to expand discovery to include communication with Augusta National members. 

Last week LIV Golf issued subpoenas to five PGA Tour board members, including former commissioner Tim Finchem and "any member of Augusta National". 

Related: Nine players who changed their mind about LIV Golf

That included former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, whom LIV accused of "attempting to influence" the U.S. Department of Justice not to investigate the PGA Tour over anticompetitive behaviour. 

LIV attorneys also alleged that banking executive Warren Stephens was involved in apparently attempting to influence the DoJ. 

According to court filings, Stephens was reportedly asked by "tour employees" to ask Republican Senator Tom Cotton to lobby against LIV. 

On Monday, Susan van Keulen ruled against LIV. 

She said the request to include the 10 Augusta National members and the Masters committee was "overly burdensome on the subpoenaed parties and not in proportion to the needs of litigation". 

The judge said communication with the members would have gone beyond "agreed-upon targets". 

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley was previously accused by LIV of leaning on players and telling them not to join the breakaway tour. 

Related: Patrick Reed trolled with Star Wars references

Ridley has been publicly scathing of LIV. 

In December, he said the players who joined the tour had:

"Divided men's professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it." 

Last October, an expose written by The New Yorker alleged that LIV attempted to rent the Augusta National clubhouse during the 86th Masters to try and woo potential recruits. 

A court filing written by LIV's attorneys read: 

"Discovery has shown that the tour delivered these threats not only through its own executives and employees, but by dispatching other influential persons on its behalf."

The judge wrote in her order: 

"The cited documents do not implicate in any way the subpoenaed parties. Nor do they reflect communications by or between the identified additional targets. Indeed, for the most part, the identified targets appear merely as names on lists or in other oblique references made by others."

PGA Tour attorneys previously argued that accusations relating to Augusta National were baseless. 

That is because in December they announced that the LIV players who have already qualified for the 87th Masters would not be blocked from playing

One of those includes Phil Mickelson, who will make his return to Augusta having skipped last year's major owing to the fallout from the remarks he made about joining LIV. 

Mickelson, who is currently suspended from the PGA Tour, has recently said he is "at peace" if he never plays on the circuit again or is involved in the Ryder Cup

Mickelson also had some predictions about the world ranking system

Next page: Mickelson's wild social media activity