Sports | July 12, 2022 10:46 am

Report: DOJ Probing Potential LIV Golf Antitrust Violations by PGA Tour

The Justice Department is watching how the PGA Tour is fighting to stop players from defecting to LIV

A black-and-white PGA Tour logo after play was suspended due to severe storms
The PGA Tour is being investigated by the Department of Justice.
Streeter Lecka/Getty

As confirmed by the PGA Tour to The Wall Street Journal, the top golf series in the world is being investigated by the United States Department of Justice for potentially engaging in anticompetitive behavior against the upstart LIV Golf Invitational Series. 

Led by Greg Norman and backed by funds from Saudi Arabia, LIV Golf has poached a number of top players from the PGA Tour including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau. Understandably eager to prevent players from leaving, the PGA Tour has added extra prize money for certain events, imposed bans on players who have already defected to the LIV series and increased its “strategic alliance” with the DP World Tour. Apparently the DOJ is curious about whether some of those measures or any other actions the PGA has taken violate antitrust law and is looking into the matter.

“Players’ agents have received inquiries from the DOJ’s antitrust division involving both the PGA Tour’s bylaws governing players’ participation in other golf events, and the PGA Tour’s actions in recent months relating to LIV Golf, according to a person familiar with those inquiries,” per The Journal.

An investigation like this will take time, and the first step will be the government gathering “emails, text messages, internal docs, WhatsApp messages — everything,” according to Craig Seebald, a partner and antitrust specialist with international law firm Vinson & Elkins. 

While the PGA Tour may not backtrack on the sanctions it has imposed on defectors, it may be more lenient moving forward while the investigation is underway, according to Seebald. “More likely it impacts future conduct,” he told “Maybe you don’t permanently suspend people when the investigation is ongoing.”

The feds have looked into the PGA Tour, and attorneys for the government determined that two Tour policies violated antitrust laws and recommended that they be nullified in 1994 following a four-year investigation. However, a case was never pursued. Given the past, this new investigation wasn’t a shock. “This was not unexpected,” a Tour spokesperson told “We went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome.”

Players from both tours should be competing later this week at the 150th Open Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. The competition gets underway Thursday, and things could be very interesting if rival players from both the PGA Tour and LIV Golf are near the top of the leaderboard during the final round.