DOJ Probes PGA Tour Over Its Tactics Against Saudi-Backed LIV Golf
Just days ahead of President Biden’s controversial visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia comes news that the Department of Justice has launched an antitrust investigation of the PGA Tour over its maneuvering against Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
Players have already received initial DOJ inquiries about the PGA Tour’s actions over the past few months. One anonymous player’s agent told ESPN the DOJ investigators are “a little bit like a dog with a bone. They’re on this. I expect them to dig as deep as they can because they’re all over this. I could tell.”
According to ESPN:
The inquiry, according to player agents who have been contacted by DOJ officials, is focused on the PGA Tour’s actions regarding the Official World Golf Ranking, warnings it has issued to players who were contemplating joining LIV Golf and suspensions that have been levied against players who left by PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan.
The PGA Tour has dished out more than 20 indefinite suspensions to players who’ve competed in LIV Golf events. The investigation will also reportedly scrutinize whether the PGA Tour is colluding with the DP World Tour and others to deny world ranking points to LIV participants.
Last week an arbiter issued a stay of a suspension that had barred LIV Golf players from competing in the Scottish Open, which is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.
The LIV Golf Invitational Series is a high-spending newcomer funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. One top of regular-season tournaments with prize purses totaling $25 million, LIV Golf has announced an eight-event series with a more than a quarter of a billion dollars in prize money at stake. The Saudis are reportedly paying golfer Phil Mickelson alone $200 million to switch from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf.
In June, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said, “If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can’t compete. The PGA Tour, an American institution, can’t compete with a foreign monarchy that is spending billions of dollars in attempt to buy the game of golf.
“We welcome good, healthy competition. The LIV Saudi golf league is not that,” he said. “It’s an irrational threat, one not concerned with the return on investment or true growth of the game.”
“This was not unexpected,” the PGA Tour said in a statement. “We went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome.” That’s a reference to a Federal Trade Commission probe prompted by the PGA Tour’s requirement that player’s obtain permission to play in non-PGA Tour matches. The PGA Tour emerged unscathed.
LIV Golf been condemned by many as a “sportswashing” venture—a public relations initiative designed to divert attention from Saudi Arabia’s atrocious human rights record, its catastrophic war in Yemen and links between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers.
Phil Mickelson says he has “deep empathy” for people who lost loved ones on 9/11.
This comes after a coalition of families and survivors of 9/11 sent a scathing letter to Mickelson and other American golfers over their decision to compete in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour. pic.twitter.com/iwG099tZFK
— The Recount (@therecount) June 13, 2022
Mon, 07/11/2022 – 22:20