PGA Tour Alleges LIV Golf’s Saudi Backers Refuse to Appear in US Courts

The Tour is coming after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and head executive Yasir Al-Rumayyan

Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund head Yasir Al-Rumayyan at the LIV Golf Invitational in London
Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund head Yasir Al-Rumayyan avoiding his day in court?
Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty

According to documents filed as part of the ongoing legal battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the former alleges that the Saudi Arabian backers of the latter have refused to respect the authority of courts in the United States and claim U.S. courts don’t have jurisdiction over them.

Per The Wall Street Journal, the PGA Tour alleges that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and its lead executive Yasir Al-Rumayyan have refused to produce documents or sit for depositions after accepting court subpoenas during the discovery process.

“There is no serious dispute that PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan possess highly relevant discovery in the underlying action. PIF created, funded, and owns LIV; PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan have had effective control over LIV from its inception,” the filing reads. “PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan now assert that there is no court in the U.S. with jurisdiction over them; claim to be immune from discovery altogether; and deny that they are relevant to LIV’s lawsuit in any way.”

If true, perhaps the Tour’s allegations shouldn’t be all that surprising given that LIV has received strong support from former president Donald Trump, an individual who has not shown the highest level of respect or regard for the U.S. judicial system or the legal process at various times throughout his career.

Trump hosted the final event of LIV’s inaugural season last month at Trump National Doral Golf Club in Florida and told The New York Times he had no qualms about having the controversial circuit at his family-controlled golf courses despite Saudi Arabia’s shaky-at-best human rights record. “We have human rights issues in this country, too,” Trump said.

The 76-year-old also criticized the PGA Tour and said that the world’s top golf series “has been destroyed” by itself. “They should have embraced instead of fighting,” he said. “You’re not going to beat these people. These people have great spirit, they’re phenomenal people and they have unlimited money — unlimited.”

That may be true, but up to this point, that money has been unable to buy LIV Golf a TV rights deal or raise its status above being anything more than a distraction. Still, the series will press on as LIV is planning 14 events next year (up from eight in 2022) and plans to offer $405 million in prize money (up from $255 million in 2022). Eventually, the series is hopeful that its team format will catch on and bring its first-year revenue ($75 million) a little closer to what the PGA Tour took in (about $1.5 billion) last season.

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