PGA Tour want PIF and Al-Rumayyan added to counter lawsuit against LIV Golf

The PGA Tour has filed a request to a federal judge in San Jose to bring the Public Investment Fund and its governor into legal proceedings.

Matt Chivers's picture
Thu, 26 Jan 2023
PGA Tour want PIF and Al-Rumayyan added to counter lawsuit against LIV Golf

The PGA Tour has asked to add the primary backer of LIV Golf and head figure Yasir Al-Rumayyan as co-defendants in its counter-lawsuit.

On Monday, the Tour asked a federal judge in San Jose to involve the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and Al-Rumayyan, emphasising the governor's role in the emergence of LIV Golf and its ability to attract players with big-money contract fees.

The court is currently undecided on requiring Al-Rumayyan to give testimony in this heated legal battle. Back in December, the Tour described the PIF and Al-Rumayyan as "the wizard behind the curtain."

"As set forth in the existing counterclaim, LIV intentionally and knowingly caused these players to breach their contractual obligations to the Tour by misrepresenting Tour contracts; inducing these breaches by offering highly lucrative contracts that make it impossible for players to comply with their Tour contracts; and providing extensive indemnification and hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate LIV players for these breaches," the motion said.

"Recently produced documents confirm that PIF and Mr Al-Rumayyan played an active and central role in orchestrating these breaches for their own benefit and are equally liable for the harm caused to the Tour."

The motion also says that LIV Golf is a result of Saudi Arabia's end goal of controlling professional golf as part of Vision 2030. Vision 2030 is a project started by the kingdom in 2016 to reduce its dependence on oil, diversify the economy and develop public sector services.

The Tour is keen to depose Al-Rumayyan. Earlier this month, a judge denied a request from LIV Golf to delay the discovery process and Al-Rumayyan has reportedly already rejected a subpoena. 

The figure's attorneys, who is also chairman of Newcastle United, have previously stated that the PIF is "an organ and integral part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" and "is entitled to sovereign immunity unless the Tour can establish an exception."

This legal team have also made clear that the PIF and Al-Rumayyan provide only "high-level oversight, not the pervasive control over day-to-day operations (of LIV Golf)" and says the "PIF’s governing law prohibits disclosure of internal information."

LIV asked the court for copies of communications between members of Augusta National on Monday too. LIV believes that this could provide evidence of the Tour's efforts to keep them out of professional golf.

"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 motion said.

In recent weeks, LIV Golf has had to deal with the exits of Atul Khosla and Matt Goodman, while Majed Al-Surour has moved to the LIV board from his previous administrative role.