Judge rules that PGA Tour can keep LIV players out of FedEx Cup

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Judge rules that PGA Tour can keep LIV players out of FedEx Cup

Greg Norman CEO/Commissioner of LIV Golf and Talor Gooch (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The battle between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf came to somewhat of a head last evening when a judge in a U.S. District Court denied a temporary restraining order motion by three LIV Golf members who were seeking to participate in the FedEx Cup Playoffs this week.

So it’s ‘1Up’ for the PGA Tour after the first victory in what will likely be a long legal battle between the Tour and LIV.

The three players in question, Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones were attempting to get a temporary restraining order to play in this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis and it was filed as part of the lawsuit last week by Phil Mickelson and ten other players.

Gooch, Swafford and Jones argued that ‘irreparable harm’ had been done to them by the Tour in keeping players suspended by the tour for their participation in LIV Golf events, out of the tour’s finale. However, Judge Beth Freeman sided with the tour and said: “It appears to the court that the LIV contracts, negotiated by the players and consummated between the parties, were based upon the players’ calculation of what they would be leaving behind and the amount the players would need to monetise to compensate for those losses.”

In its response to the original TRO motion, the tour had argued that the LIV players were “fabricating an emergency” and questioned the timing of the filing. Judge Freeman did not agree, feeling the filing was timely. But Freeman also said that LIV players are making more than what they made on tour, thus hurting the case that the tour suspensions were truly causing harm.

“I do agree with (the PGA Tour) that those losses were well known to the players at the time and clearly monetised. The evidence shows that it seems almost without a doubt that they will be earning more than they have made and could reasonably have expected to make in a reasonable amount of time under the PGA,” she added.

Following the ruling LIV Golf issued a statement saying: “We’re disappointed that Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones won’t be allowed to play golf. No one gains by banning golfers from playing.”

Meanwhile, PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan sent a memo to players saying: “With today’s news, our players, fans and partners can now focus on what really matters over the next three weeks. The best players in the world competing in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, capping off an incredibly compelling season with the crowning of the FedExCup champion at the Tour Championship.” 

Judge Freeman also set the timeline for the remainder of the Mickelson et al vs. PGA Tour lawsuit and the trial is set to begin in September 2023.

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