LIV Golf was dealt another setback in federal court Thursday as a federal judge scheduled a 2024 trial date for the antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA Tour, months later than attorneys for the rival tour had requested.
U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman set a tentative date for arguments for summary judgment — where the PGA Tour will all but certainly seek the case’s dismissal — for July 13, 2023 and a trial date of January 8, 2024.
Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and nine other LIV Golf competitors sued the PGA Tour earlier this month. Beyond the lawsuit, three plaintiffs in the case — Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford, and Matt Jones — sought a temporary restraining order that would have allowed them to play in the FedEX Cup Playoffs.
Labson denied that injunction, keeping the trio from playing in the PGA Tour’s version of the postseason.
Robert Walters, the attorney representing the players, argued for a March summary judgment date with a trial starting in August 2023 — which would have meant the trial would take place during next year’s FedEX Cup Playoffs.
Walters said time is of the essence in the case because the PGA Tour is a “monopolist,” controlling and restricting talent along with access to media rights. The longer the case plays out, the less time pro golfers would have access to free agency.
“They have a limited shelf life,” Walters said.
PGA Tour attorney Elliot Peters pushed back against a more expedited schedule, saying that it’s not yet known if officials at the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund — the financial backers of LIV Golf — can be subpoenaed.
“We have already been ambushed once in this case,” said Peters, referring to last week’s hearing on the temporary restraining order. “We would like an opportunity to get our ducks in a row.”