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PGA Tour v. LIV Golf lawsuits: a Full Timeline and Breakdown of Events

Below is a complete timeline and breakdown of events in the PGA Tour v. LIV Golf saga from pre-LIV to today. This page will be updated periodically as new developments arise.

January 2021 – it’s rumored that a “Super Golf League” funded by Golf Saudi will form in 2022. Simultaneously, the PGA Tour launches its $40 million Player Impact Program (PIP), promising financial rewards to players for online engagement.

May 2021 – there are reports that Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose receive offers of over $100 million to join the new league. Additionally, there are rumblings of Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter, Louis Oosthuizen, and others with offers on the table.

October 2021 – the new league featuring no cuts and limited fields officially launches as “LIV Golf” – with “LIV” representing its signature 54-hole event format.

February 2022 – while playing at the Saudi International, Phil Mickelson bashes the PGA Tour by saying that their “obnoxious greed has opened the door for opportunities elsewhere.” He also gives an infamous interview to The Firepit Collective’s Alan Shipnuck, where he refers to the Saudis as “scary motherfu**ers” while simultaneously calling LIV a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

After significant backlash, Mickelson announces that he is taking time away from the game. It would later be revealed that he was suspended for recruiting players to join LIV. The same day, PGA Tour Commission Jay Monahan tells players that they will be banned from the PGA Tour if they join LIV.

March-May 2022 – LIV’s signings include Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, and Ian Poulter. Mickelson reportedly signed for around $200 million while DJ landed around $125 million.

June 2022 – LIV’s inaugural event tees off at the Centurion Club in London. Within minutes, Jay Monahan issues a memo suspending 17 players for “turning their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation.”

August 3, 2022 – Eleven players sue the PGA Tour for antitrust violations, claiming that the Tour is undertaking a “carefully orchestrated plan to defeat competition.” Three of the eleven players (Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, and Matt Jones), also ask the court for a temporary restraining order that will allow them to play in the upcoming FedEx Cup Playoffs. They had previously qualified for those tournaments but became ineligible after their suspensions.

August 9, 2022 – Judge Beth Freeman denies the requests by Gooch, Swafford, and Jones to play in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Her reasoning was, in part, that (1) the players could not prove that they were “injured” financially, which is a pre-requisite for a temporary restraining order; and (2) that the players were “well aware” of the consequences of leaving for LIV. She also pointed out that the players waited some time before filing their case just a week before the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The PGA Tour and Jay Monahan accused them of “fabricating an emergency.”

Mid-August 2022: Tiger Woods reportedly turns down an $800 million offer to join LIV Golf. Elsewhere, Patrick Reed files a ~$1 billion lawsuit against Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. Jay Monahan also announces five lucrative changes to the PGA Tour to prevent more players from leaving. Those changes include travel stipends for missed cuts, designated/elevated events, and increased prize purses.

Late August 2022 – LIV is added to the lawsuit as a plaintiff as most of the players drop out. Judge Freeman points to LIV’s success in signing players as proof that it has successfully entered the market for professional golf despite its claims that the PGA Tour is preventing them from doing so.

September 2022 – the PGA Tour countersues LIV for tortious interference, claiming that LIV is paying players astronomical amounts of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the Tour. They also ask for documents and communications from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

November 2022 – PIF and Al-Rumayyan ask a judge to quash the PGA Tour’ subpoena request. They argue, in part, that they are immune from lawsuits in US courts under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

January 2023 – the PGA Tour moves to add PIF and Al-Rumayyan as defendants to the lawsuit. They argue that those parties essentially control the day-to-day operations of LIV, including the recruitment of players, approval of contracts, and more. PIF counters that it is not actually in control of LIV, but that it is merely an investor.

February 2023 – PIF and Al-Rumayyan’s requests to be shielded from turning over documents and sitting for depositions are denied. Judge Susan Van Keulen says that their actions fall squarely within the “commercial activity” exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. That exception says that while foreign governments and officials are generally immune from lawsuits in US courts, that immunity does not apply if they have purposely engaged in commercial activity in the US. Separately, the PGA Tour’s motion to add those parties as defendants to the case is granted.

March 2023 – PIF files an amicus brief (an argument by a third party who is not one of the parties in the case) detailing why they should not be subject to discovery or added as defendants to the case. The PGA Tour replies by stating that PIF is willing to comply with discovery in US courts “when it benefits their interests.”

The PGA Tour v. LIV Golf saga is ongoing, and we will provide new developments here as they arise. This thread is also available on Twitter.

John Nucci is the Chief Golf Law Correspondent for Conduct Detrimental and an Attorney in New York. He can be reached via Twitter at @JNucci23 or by email at [email protected].

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