Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau lead a group of 11 LIV Golf players who sued to challenge their PGA Tour suspensions Wednesday.
The players were suspended by the PGA Tour for joining the controversial LIV Golf series and the 11 have claimed they are being punished for playing in the breakaway’s tournaments.
The group have now filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The group of LIV Golf defectors seeking legal action also includes European Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, Abraham Ancer, Jason Kokrak, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez and Peter Uihlein.
Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford are a part of the lawsuit because they are seeking a temporary restraining order so that they can play in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs.
The PGA Tour’s playoffs begin next week in Memphis and the trio had qualified for the three-event postseason before joining LIV Golf but the Tour has said they are now not allowed to compete.
The PGA Tour will allow players from outside the top 125 in the rankings to compete and take the place of those associated with LIV Golf.
The bombshell lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California, accused the PGA Tour of exercising its monopoly to crush overseas competition and punish players who joined it.
Bryson DeChambeau (left) and Phil Mickelson (right) are among 11 players to sue the PGA Tour
Ian Poulter successfully gained a temporary stay of his suspension from July’s Scottish Open
The lawsuit read: ‘As part of its carefully orchestrated plan to defeat competition, the Tour has threatened lifetime bans on players who play in even a single LIV Golf event.
‘It has backed up these threats by imposing unprecedented suspensions on players (including the Plaintiffs) that threaten irreparable harm to the players and their ability to pursue their profession.’
It adds: ‘As the Tour’s monopoly power has grown, it has employed its dominance to craft an arsenal of anticompetitive restraints to protect its long-standing monopoly.
‘Now, threatened by the entry of LIV Golf, Inc. (‘LIV Golf’), and diametrically opposed to its founding mission, the Tour has ventured to harm the careers and livelihoods of any golfers, including Plaintiffs Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, Matt Jones, Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Ian Poulter, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak, and Peter Uihlein (‘Plaintiffs’), who have the temerity to defy the Tour and play in tournaments sponsored by the new entrant.
a Aces teammates Talor Gooch (left) and Pat Perez (right) are also listed among the 11 players
Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford (pictured) are seeking a restraining order
‘The Tour has done so in an intentional and relentless effort to crush nascent competition before it threatens the Tour’s monopoly.’
The lawsuit also accuses the PGA Tour of using golf’s Majors to ‘do its bidding’ in order to maximize its threat.
It reads: ‘The PGA Tour also has leaned on other entities in the so-called golf ‘ecosystem,’ including certain entities that put on golf’s ‘Majors,’ to do its bidding in its effort to maximize the threats and harm to any golfer who defies the Tour’s monopsonistic requirements and plays in LIV Golf events.’
The Saudi-backed breakaway has now held three events, the latest hosted by Donald Trump at the Trump National Golf Course Bedminster last week, and has caused a deep divide within the sport.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan crashed the Saudis’ party on the opening day of the inaugural event in St Albans, England, as he accused the defectors of making ‘their choice for their own financial-based reasons’ and claimed the tour’s ‘legacy can’t be bought or sold’.
The third LIV Golf event was hosted by Donald Trump (pictured left with Dustin Johnson)
A bombshell letter from the PGA Tour announced that all defecting members to rebel Saudi Invitational series have been suspended, in a huge shake-up for golf’s biggest names
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan accused players of ‘willfully violating regulation’
Within 30 minutes of the first shots being struck in the £20million event – the most lucrative golf tournament in history – the PGA Tour sent a memo to all members informing them that 17 players competing at Centurion, despite being refused permission, were being suspended.
The list included six-time major winner Mickelson, who holds Lifetime Membership of the PGA Tour, former World No 1 Dustin Johnson and European stars Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Poulter and Lee Westwood.
Those who have joined since have also faced suspensions from the PGA Tour, while the DP World Tour hit back by firing Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson after he joined LIV Golf for a reported $48million last month.
Meanwhile the DP World Tour has also faced challenges from the defectors with three members, including Poulter, successfully gaining a temporary stay of their suspensions from July’s Scottish Open, pending determination of their substantive appeals.
The players had also been fined £100,000 for competing in the first LIV Golf event in June after being turned down for the required releases.