PGA Tour files countersuit against LIV Golf as legal battle intensifies

The PGA Tour filed a countersuit against the LIV Golf Invitational Series this week, accusing the new Saudi Arabian-backed league of trying to induce top golfers to breach their contracts with the Tour by claiming that the Tour couldn’t enforce them, according to The Associated Press’ Doug Ferguson.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in the Tour’s response to the amended lawsuit filed by LIV Golf and others in northern California.

The Tour said that LIV Golf wants courts to invalidate its regulations “with the stroke of a pen” after promising golfers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This case is not about unfair competition — if anyone is competing unfairly, it is LIV, not the Tour,” the Tour said in the claim. “Instead, it is a cynical effort to avoid competition and to freeride off the Tour’s investment in the development of professional golf.”

Eleven golfers, including Phil Mickelson, filed a federal antitrust lawsuit with LIV Golf against the Tour earlier this year. Since then, however, all but three — Talor Gooch, Peter Uihlein and Matt Jones — remain. Mickelson was among those who pulled his name from the lawsuit earlier this week, saying his presence wasn’t necessary anymore.

The three left in the lawsuit, the Tour said in its filing, just “want to enrich themselves in complete disregard of the promises they made to the Tour.”

Among other things, LIV Golf said that the Tour engaged in anticompetitive behavior by stopping players from competing in LIV Golf events and for unfairly suspending golfers when they left the Tour.

The Tour called this claim “fiction.”

“LIV’s statements regarding golfer freedom are a thinly veiled public relations ploy concocted to disparage the tour and deflect criticism of LIV’s own restrictive business model,” the counterclaim said.

The filing is the latest development in the battle between LIV Golf and the Tour, though a trial date isn’t scheduled until January 2024.

Mickelson and others have called for the two leagues to coexist, or to at least start working together in some fashion, in recent weeks. Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, however, dismissed that idea entirely — and pointed to the lawsuits as one of the reasons why.

“I think words and actions are important,” Monahan said this week. “I think it’s impractical [to work with LIV Golf] when you look at the fact that certain players have sued the PGA Tour, their employer has sued the PGA Tour.

“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.”

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan
The PGA Tour, led by commissioner Jay Monahan, filed a countersuit against LIV Golf on Wednesday night. (John Adams/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)