Report: DOJ inquires about antitrust in PGA-LIV dispute


Greg Norman, CEO of LIV Golf, throws a beer to spectators in the crowd surrounding the 18th green during the Portland Invitational LIV golf tournament in North Plains, Ore., Saturday, July 2, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)


The dispute between the PGA Tour and the Saudi-funded LIV Golf series is now drawing the attention of the US Department of Justice, according to the Wall Street Journal, and the PGA Tour said on Monday it was satisfied that it would prevail.

“It was not unexpected,” the tour said in a statement.

The Journal said players’ agents had received requests from the Justice Department’s antitrust division regarding PGA Tour regulations on competitive events and the tour suspending players in recent months for participating in LIV events. Golf. The Journal quoted a person familiar with the investigations.

The Department of Justice did not comment.

The new series is backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund and has already attracted nearly two dozen PGA Tour members, a roster that includes Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. All reportedly received signing fees of $150 million or more. For Johnson, that would be twice his career earnings over his 15 years on the PGA Tour.

At issue is the PGA Tour’s policy that members receive conflicting event permission to play tournaments overseas when a tour event is taking place that week. Players typically receive three such releases per year, just for overseas events. The tour does not allow outings to tournaments held in North America.

He refused exits from the first LIV Golf event, held outside London the first week of June, as he saw it as a series of tournaments that threatened the PGA Tour. LIV Events offers $25 million in prize money and its eight-tournament schedule includes five events in the United States. Two are on courses owned by former President Donald Trump.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan suspended players who participated in the first and most recent LIV event outside of Portland, Oregon. The next LIV event is scheduled for Trump National in New Jersey in two weeks.

Some players, such as Johnson and Sergio Garcia, have resigned from their PGA Tour memberships. Mickelson did not. He is a lifetime member due to his 45 career wins, and Mickelson said he earned that status.

Greg Norman, the two-time British Open champion and CEO of LIV Golf, said two months ago when the Tour refused releases that “the PGA Tour seems determined to deny professional golfers their right to play golf unless let it be exclusively in a PGA Tour. tournament.” He called the decision “anti-golfer, anti-fan and anti-competitive.”

The tour referenced a Federal Trade Commission investigation from two decades ago saying in its statement, “We went through this in 1994 and are confident of a similar outcome.”

This four-year investigation resulted in a recommendation from the FTC that two rules should be overturned – participating in non-PGA Tour-related events without permission from the commissioner and allowing veto power over players appearing in televised golf. Under intense lobbying, the FTC voted 4-0 to end the investigation by rejecting the recommendation of staff antitrust attorneys.

The report comes at the start of the British Open at St. Andrews, another example of how the rival league has disrupted golf this year. Players who signed with Norman’s group were criticized for the source of funding, and players like Mickelson and Johnson lost corporate sponsorships.

Four players from the European tour last week have been temporarily suspended, allowing them to play in the Scottish Open.


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Lynn A. Saleh