Aug 10, 2022 - Sports

Judge rules LIV golfers can't play in PGA Tour postseason

Talor Gooch of the United States plays his shot from the seventh tee during the second round of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club on May 20, 2022 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
U.S. golfer Talor Gooch at the 2022 PGA Championship in Tulsa, Okla. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

A California federal judge ruled on Tuesday that three golfers who joined the Saudi-backed LIV Tour will not be able to compete in the PGA Tour's postseason.

Why it matters: It's the latest ruling in a legal battle between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, which suspended golfers who joined the rival circuit since tour bylaws bar members from appearing in other events without the permission of the commissioner, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The big picture: The three golfers, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford, sought a temporary restraining order against the PGA, arguing that they should be able to play where they want to.

  • "I am a free agent and independent contractor," they said in letters sent to the PGA, per AP.
  • The players' lawyer Robert Walters argued that "players lose intangible benefits" such as qualifications for majors by not competing in the FedEx Cup playoff, which begins Thursday.
  • "This is the holy grail because everybody wants to compete in and prevail in major championships, but it’s not just the majors," Walters said.

Flashback: Gooch, Jones and Hudson are also among the 10 players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last week.

Details: U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman said in her ruling that she didn't consider the golfers faced irreparable harm because of the big money they were guaranteed by joining LIV, according to AP.

  • The LIV tour used hefty signing bonuses and bigger purses to lure some of the biggest names from the PGA Tour.

What they're saying: An attorney for the PGA argued that allowing the LIV golfers to play would "give them a fabulous platform" to promote the LIV tour while competing in a PGA event, AP reports.

  • "The Commissioner needs the ability to protect the Tour. This is a very dire situation for the Tour," Elliot Peters said.
  • “With today’s news, our players, fans and partners can now focus on what really matters over the next three weeks: the best players in the world competing in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, capping off an incredibly compelling season with the crowning of the FedEx Cup champion at the Tour Championship," PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said in a statement.
  • "We're disappointed that Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones won’t be allowed to play golf. No one gains by banning golfers from playing," LIV Golf said in a statement.
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