LIV Golf wins antitrust lawsuit against PGA Tour | Golf news and tour information
After a string of losses in their contentious battle against the PGA Tour, LIV Golf deserved a win.
Last month, a federal judge ruled that Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund and its governor can be removed and must produce documents in the ongoing antitrust case and counter-trial between the Tour and LIV. Earlier this week, however, Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled that the request was stayed pending further investigation.
Federal Judge Susan van Keulen had dismissed LIV’s arguments that the PIF and Yasir Al-Rumayyan were protected by sovereign immunity laws because Al-Rumayan’s conduct “falls under the commercial activity exception of the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.” If the ruling stands, it would grant unprecedented access to the sovereign wealth fund’s operations, which Saudi Arabia has long fought to keep secret. But according to Freeman, there are “a number of thorny issues, including the application of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, whether Mr. Al-Rumayyan is entitled to common-law immunity from enforcing the PGA’s subpoena.”
The tour has argued that LIV is the end result of a “long drawn-out plan” to take over professional golf as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which Golf Digest detailed here. The PIF is LIV’s main supporter and documents the PGA Tour, which was spotted in December and claims that PIF and Al-Rumayyan were “instrumental in getting players to break their tour contracts”. The tour argues that Al-Rumayyan personally recruits players, “played an active role in contract negotiations and explicitly approved each of the players’ contracts — despite knowing that those deals would affect players’ tour contracts.”
LIV has countered that the PIF is a “pure investor”, but van Keulen dismissed these claims, writing that it was apparent that the PIF was “the driving force behind the creation, funding, oversight and operation of LIV”. Al-Rumayyan, who belongs to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s inner circle, is considered the mastermind of the Gulf Saudi and LIV Golf projects. Although Greg Norman was the publicly available head of LIV Golf, sources familiar with LIV say that Golf Digest Al-Rumayyan and Majed Al Sorour were the two people who had the final say on LIV Golf/Golf Saudi matters. Earlier this year, Al Sorour was replaced as managing director of LIV Golf.
LIV Golf is hosting its second event of its second season this weekend in Arizona.