Hit with an antitrust lawsuit in a Calfornia court in early August by a group of LIV golfers highlighted by Phil Mickelson, who has since dropped out of the suit, the PGA Tour’s countersuit in the matter was filed late Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.
Accused of being an “entrenched monopolist” in the August complaint, the PGA Tour fired back at LIV Golf by claiming the Saudi-backed golf circuit induced players to breach their contracts by offering up millions of dollars of what some would call blood money.
“LIV’s orchestrated efforts to induce Tour members to breach their contracts and prevent them from entering into any future contract with the tour are part of a deliberate effort to harm the Tour,” the PGA Tour said in its filing. “Indeed, a key component of LIV’s strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events like The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform.”
Perhaps somewhat expected, the PGA Tour’s countersuit is noteworthy because it underscores how unlikely a truce between the two rival golf leagues actually is. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, who already said making peace with LIV Golf was “off the table,” doubled down on that sentiment during a recent Q&A session with ESPN.
Asked about the prospect of LIV Golf and the PGA Tour working together, Monahan said “it’s not in the cards” and added that he “didn’t make much” of Greg Norman’s recent visit to Capitol Hill. (Some lawmakers felt the same.)
“I think it’s impractical when you look at the fact that certain players have sued the PGA Tour, their employer has sued the PGA Tour,” Monahan said. “It’s not in the cards. It hasn’t been in the cards and it’s not in the cards. I think we’ve been pretty consistent on that front.”
Monahan’s remarks put a damper on Rory McIlroy, who has been a vocal critic of LIV Golf and is probably the PGA Tour’s most popular player aside from Tiger Woods, calling for pro golf’s rival circuits to “sit around a table to figure something out” because the “the game is ripping itself apart.”
“I don’t want a fractured game. I never have,” he said this week. “You look at some other sports and what’s happened and the game of golf is ripping itself apart right now and that’s no good for anyone. It’s no good for the guys on, you know, this side or the sort of traditional system and it’s no good for the guys on the other side, either. It’s no good for anyone. There is a time and a place for it. I just think right now, with where everything is, it’s probably not the right time. But saying that, I don’t think we can let it go too much longer. So I’m all for everyone sitting around the table and trying to figure something out.”
Perhaps that table will be in a courtroom in January 2024 when LIV Golf’s antitrust lawsuit is set to go to trial.