Tiger Woods walked into a law firm in South Florida ahead of a scheduled deposition on Tuesday. But the 15-time major winner’s interview under oath was halted by a judge before it began—the latest turn in an antitrust case filed in a Palm Beach County court by conservative activist attorney Larry Klayman.
“Counsel for Tiger Woods and the PGA Tour—at the last minute, as Woods’s deposition was to begin—objected to proceeding,” Klayman tells Front Office Sports. Judge Luis Delgado delayed the Woods deposition in an emergency hearing Tuesday morning, according to Klayman. (An attorney for Woods did not immediately respond to FOS.)
The attorney, who also represents golfer Patrick Reed, and who is appealing U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan’s September decision to dismiss the LIV player’s defamation cases, sued the PGA Tour, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, the DP World Tour (European Tour), and DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley in June 2022. That lawsuit, which has garnered little attention, predates the biggest legal row in golf history, which pitted the PGA Tour against LIV Golf and its main financial backer, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. (That court battle went away in June when a yet-to-be-finalized partnership agreement was reached.)
The claims are similar to those in the original August 2022 federal lawsuit filed by LIV players against the PGA Tour, where the upstart league eventually became the lone plaintiff and alleged the PGA Tour used its dominance as part of a “carefully orchestrated plan to defeat” LIV.
Attorneys for the PGA Tour and the other defendants filed a motion several months ago to disqualify Klayman from the case, but Delgado hadn’t ruled on that motion. “Mr. Klayman cannot be a lawyer in this case,” Lawrence D. Silverman, one of the defendant’s attorneys, said in a hearing last week.
On Tuesday, Delgado issued a stay in the case until that issue is resolved. According to an August filing in the case, attorneys for the defendants argued that Klayman’s “personal and financial interest in his recovery of attorneys’ fees precludes him from serving” as the lead lawyer if this lawsuit is certified as a class-action case. The defendants’ lawyers also said disqualification should be granted because Klayman could be called as a witness.
Klayman tells FOS that he will bring on another attorney to represent the class and that Woods’s deposition will likely take place in a few weeks.
“The bottom line is this: Mr. Woods cannot skate from giving oral testimony under oath for his involvement in the alleged anticompetitive conduct by the defendants, the PGA Tour and Commissioner Jay Monahan, to maintain the Tour’s monopoly by killing a new entrant into the market, LIV Golf,” Klayman says. “Regardless of the class issue Judge Degado ruled that I can proceed as a pro se plaintiff as I am the lead plaintiff, so I have not been disqualified from the case.”
Delgado has allowed for discovery to progress, which includes the depositions of Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Davis Love III. (Love was deposed in December, and McIlroy has a deposition set for February.) Delgado has also allowed discovery to continue on other non-parties in the case, including subpoenas for the executives of golf’s four majors.
According to court documents, Klayman has sought to depose Woods, in part, because he’s a member of the PGA Tour Player Advisory Council—which is negotiating the partnership agreement that would end the rift in pro golf.
While much of the case is under seal, and Woods’s deposition transcript is expected to be sealed as well for several weeks, the public filings show plenty of discord between Klayman and the other attorneys. Klayman, for example, has complained in court filings that Woods hasn’t fully complied with his subpoena for documents ahead of the deposition, according to a Friday filing.
“You seem to have forgotten [the language of the] subpoena and you obviously haven’t carefully reviewed the production,” Mike Ferrara, one of Woods’s attorneys, wrote in an email to Klayman on Thursday. “You continue to make threats and lodge accusations that are entirely unmoored from fact and law. … You have no basis on the merits for complaining about this production, and if you seek to cause our client to incur more wasted costs in responding to your unreasonable demands and false allegations, we reserve the right to seek both sanctions and costs.”
Klayman’s response to Ferrara was sent 10 minutes later: “I have reviewed all. The sanctions should apply to y’all. I don’t make threats because I always do what I say.”