PGA Tour asks judge to deny appeal of 3 suspended players, arguing they knew the consequences of joining LIV Golf

The PGA Tour has asked a federal judge in San Francisco to deny the appeal of three suspended players who joined Saudi-backed LIV Golf and now want to compete in the circuit’s lucrative postseason, arguing the players knew of the consequences two years ago. months.

Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford filed a temporary restraining order last week, separate from 10 players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 pm PDT in San Jose, California, two days before the first of three FedEx Cup playoff events in the hunt for the $18 million prize.

The FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee has a $15 million purse, with the top 70 players advancing to the second postseason event in Wilmington, Delaware.

Gooch (No. 20), Jones (No. 65) and Swafford (No. 67) are among the nine players who have joined LIV Golf and finished the regular season in the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings. The other six who joined LIV Golf are not asking to play in the tour’s postseason.

In a court filing Monday to oppose the temporary restraining order, the tour argued that antitrust laws do not allow the three players to “have their cake and eat it too.”

“Despite knowing full well that they would violate TOUR Regulations and be suspended for doing so, Plaintiffs teamed up with competing golf league LIV Golf, which paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money provided by the sovereign wealth of Saudi Arabia. the tour said in its contrary motion.

The three players were not among the most wanted players for Greg Norman’s rival league, although they were among the initial group of players signed with LIV Golf. Gooch was the only one in the top 50 in the world, mainly because of his only win on the PGA Tour last November.

“Plaintiffs have waited nearly two months to seek assistance from the Court, fabricating an ’emergency’ which they now contend requires immediate action,” the filing says. “It is not like this”.

The tour contends the player knew he would be ineligible for the FedEx Cup playoffs “when they accepted millions of LIV to breach their agreements” with the tour.

The players were not suspended until they actually teed off at an LIV Golf event.

LIV Golf events, with a 48-player course, consist of 54 holes and offer $25 million in prize money for each event. Seventeen players have already won $1 million or more in three or fewer events. There are five more events left on this year’s schedule, and LIV Golf has already announced a 14-tournament schedule for 2023.

The next LIV event doesn’t start until after the PGA Tour season ends at East Lake in Atlanta with the FedEx Cup, which pays $18 million to the champion.

Although LIV Golf players have been suspended, they are still eligible for the FedEx Cup bonus package. Anyone who finishes in the top 125 receives $120,000. Those who finish in the top 150, like Pat Perez and Paul Casey, will receive $85,000.

Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia are among the LIV Golf players who have opted out of their PGA Tour membership. Reed is playing two Asian Tour-International Series tournaments this month.

The lawsuit was filed on August 3 by 11 players. Carlos Ortiz’s manager told The Associated Press that Ortiz is no longer a party to the lawsuit, although that has not yet been reflected in court documents.

“Carlos doesn’t want to get involved in any legal battle,” his manager, Carlos Rodriguez, said in a text message. “He’s grateful for the opportunity he’s had to play on the PGA Tour and the Korn Ferry Tour in recent years.”

Ortiz in two LIV events has earned nearly $3.5 million, roughly 44% of his career earnings on the 160-tournament PGA Tour.

The field for Memphis is currently 122 players out of 125 who are eligible and in good standing. Three players opted not to compete due to injury or scheduling.

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