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Federal Judge Denies Injunction Sought by 3 LIV Golf Participants

  • Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones looked to get their PGA Tour suspensions lifted.
  • Hearing in San Jose was the first since LIV Golf sued the PGA Tour last week.
Paul Childs/Reuters via USA TODAY Sports
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U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman denied a temporary restraining order that would have allowed three LIV Golf competitors to play in the PGA Tour’s FedEX Cup Playoffs this week. 

After about two hours of oral arguments, Freeman ruled that LIV Golf’s legal team failed to show that Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, and Matt Jones would suffer “irreparable” harm financially by missing out on the postseason. 

“The players [knew] what they were leaving behind and the amount of money they’d need to be compensated [by defecting to LIV Golf],”  Freeman said in her ruling. “Those losses were known to the players at the time [they left the PGA Tour].

“The evidence shows without a doubt they will be earning more than they would have been paid [on the PGA Tour].”

The hearing in a federal courtroom in San Jose didn’t deal with the merits of the antitrust lawsuit filed last week on behalf of Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and nine other LIV competitors against the PGA Tour. The first hearing in that case won’t likely occur until next year. 

The lawsuit alleged that the suspensions of players are part of the PGA Tour’s “carefully orchestrated plan to defeat” LIV Golf. 

“We’re disappointed that Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones won’t be allowed to play golf,” LIV Golf said in a statement after Freeman’s decision. “No one gains by banning golfers from playing.”

To secure the injunction, the three golfers had to show irreparable harm — Freeman didn’t seem to be buying any kind of monetary harm since LIV Golf has given each millions just to sign with the Saudi-backed tour. 

“They made a business decision,” PGA Tour attorney Elliot Peters said in court. “They have made, over the last two months, more money they have made on the PGA Tour [overall].”

LIV lawyer Robert Walters argued that the three golfers’ earning potential — including endorsement money — would be forever impacted if the PGA Tour’s suspension is not lifted before the FedEX Cup Playoffs begin in Memphis on Thursday. 

Walters equated the FedEX Cup Playoffs to the “Super Bowl” and “Word Series” of golf. He said that the players would have played in the season-ending, three-round playoff minus LIV Golf branding on the course.

Peters countered that granting a restraining order would be akin to giving the golfers a “get out of jail free card.”

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