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Another Ruling by Federal Judge Goes PGA Tour’s Way

  • Judge allows PGA Tour to amend counterclaim against LIV Golf as part of antirust case.
  • PIF, fund chief Yasir Al-Rumayyan to be added as counterclaim defendants.
The PGA Tour keeps racking up wins over LIV Golf.
Photo/Chris Tilley.

LIV Golf was dealt its second setback in less than a week via decisions made by two federal judges in the antitrust case LIV brought against the PGA Tour. 

Judge Beth Labson Freeman cleared the way for the PGA Tour to add Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and PIF’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, as counterclaim defendants, according to an order filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Tuesday night. 

“The court finds no bad faith or dilatory motive underlying the [PGA] TOUR’s motion to amend,” Freeman wrote. 

One of LIV Golf’s main arguments — that allowing the PGA Tour to amend its counterclaim would threaten the January 2024 trial — took a hit last week via a decision by another federal judge in San Jose. 

On Thursday night, Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ruled that PIF and Al-Rumayyan are subject to discovery even without being part of the PGA Tour’s counterclaim. 

“Any delay LIV attributes to this amended pleading is not likely to outlast the delay caused by the subpoena dispute over PIF and Al-Rumayyan] discovery and LIV’s anticipated motion seeking review of Judge van Keulen’s order,” Freeman wrote in her Tuesday decision. 

Freeman would handle the review of van Keulen’s ruling. If Freeman upholds van Keulen’s decision, LIV Golf could then file an appeal with the 9th Circuit. 

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday. 

Several LIV Golf players sued the PGA Tour in August. LIV Golf became the main plaintiff after many players dropped from the lawsuit that alleged the PGA Tour leveraged its monopoly to hinder LIV Golf’s ability to land golfers, sponsors, and television partners. 

The PGA Tour countersued LIV Golf in September. The complaint alleged LIV Golf officials “tortiously interfered” with existing contracts between the PGA Tour and pro golfers. The need to add PIF and Al-Rumayyan to the counterclaim arose after PGA Tours’ lawyer claimed early discovery showed their roles within LIV Golf. 

“In addition to exercising near absolute authority over LIV, PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan have personally recruited [PGA] Tour players, played an active role in contract negotiations, and expressly approved each of the player contracts—all while knowing that these deals would interfere with the players’ Tour contracts,” PGA Tour’s lawyers wrote in the filing.

LIV Golf’s second season is set to begin Friday at the El Camaleón Golf Course in Mayakoba, Mexico. 

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