Augusta National, the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America are now included in the Justice Department’s growing antitrust investigation into the PGA Tour, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The initial investigation stemmed from the Tour’s feud with the controversial Saudi Arabian-backed LIV Golf, which has prompted lawsuits from each league against one another in a lengthy legal battle.
Initially, the DOJ was just looking at the Tour. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, it now includes Augusta National, the USGA and the PGA of America.
Augusta National hosts the Masters every year, and is independent from the rest of golf. The USGA is the sport’s governing body in the United States and runs the U.S. Open. It is independent from the Tour. The PGA of America is also independent, and hosts the PGA Championship each year.
Augusta National and the PGA of America declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal. The USGA said it will comply with any and all requests.
With the widening investigation, the DOJ's investigation now includes the organizations that run three of the four major championships. The fourth major, the British Open, is run by the R&A in England.
Several LIV Golf members and the organization filed an antitrust lawsuit against the Tour in August, challenging their suspensions from the Tour after they left for LIV Golf. Some golfers have resigned their Tour memberships. The initial lawsuit claimed that the Tour’s punishments were illegal, essentially a “lifetime ban” from the league, and that the suspensions were handed down as a result of trying to lure others away to LIV Golf.
It also said that the Tour and others, including Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley, threatened players from leaving. Ridley, per the lawsuit, “personally instructed a number of participants in the 2022 Masters not to play” in LIV Golf — which has accused other leagues of aligning themselves with the Tour.
That lawsuit is what prompted the DOJ to start its investigation.
The Tour has since filed a countersuit against LIV Golf, accusing the league of interfering with its contracts with players. Nearly all of the LIV Golfers golfers involved have removed themselves from the lawsuit. The Tour also filed a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund this week, which financially backs LIV Golf.
LIV Golf will wrap up its inaugural eight event season this week at Trump National Doral in Miami. It marks the second event held at a course owned by former President Donald Trump, who is expected to play in the pro-am there later this week.
The Tour is wrapping up its fall portion of the 2022-23 season. It will host the Bermuda Championship this week, the first of four remaining events left in the calendar year.