‘If LIV Golf is the future… what do you care about dust-collecting trophies of a bygone era?’: Golf’s Saudi rebels are shut down by a judge in their court battle to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs after being suspended by the PGA
- Golf’s Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones were shut down by a judge
- Ruling judge said they ‘have not even shown that they have been harmed’
- The lawsuit was targeted at adding the trio to the FedEx Cup playoffs – but failed
Three LIV players seeking to play in the FedEx Cup play-offs failed to show ‘they have been harmed – let alone irreparably’, the ruling judge has said.
Judge Beth Labson Freeman on Tuesday said Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones were ‘well aware of the consequences’ of their actions in competing in LIV events without permission and had not ‘made their case’ against being suspended by the PGA Tour as a result.
She suggested golf’s Saudi tour rebels should not ‘care about dust-collecting trophies of a bygone era’ if they were to claim that LIV Golf is ‘elite golf’s future’.
The decision meant the trio were not added to the field for the FedEx St Jude Championship, the first of three play-off events which began at TPC Southwind in Memphis on Thursday, the same day the judge’s written ruling was released.
Three LIV players seeking to play in the FedEx Cup play-offs failed to show ‘that they have been harmed – let alone irreparably’, the ruling judge has said
Open champion Cameron Smith looks set to be the next to turn his back on the PGA Tour
‘Based on this evidence, Plaintiffs have not even shown that they have been harmed — let alone irreparably,’ Freeman wrote.
‘It is clear that the LIV Golf contracts negotiated by the Plaintiffs and consummated between the parties were based on the players’ calculation of what they would be leaving behind and the amount of money they would need to compensate for those losses.
‘Plaintiffs have signed contracts that richly reward them for their talent and compensate for lost opportunity through TOUR play. In fact, the evidence shows almost without a doubt that they will be earning significantly more money with LIV Golf than they could reasonably have expected to make through TOUR play over the same time period.’
LIV Golf have lured the likes of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson on contracts worth up to $200million. Open champion Cameron Smith looks set to be the next to turn his back on the PGA Tour and join.
Talor Gooch (left) is pictured with Donald Trump at the LIV Golf event in New Jersey last month
Judge Freeman disagreed with the LIV players’ legal argument that not appearing in the play-offs would cause them to suffer financial and reputational losses.
She wrote: ‘Plaintiffs’ contention that they will irreparably lose future sponsorship opportunities and career status is undermined by Plaintiffs’ evidence that LIV Golf offers a refreshing new “extremely fan-friendly” business model that will lead to “an improved broadcast output and entertainment experience” compared to the staid old golf world built by PGA TOUR.
‘If LIV Golf is elite golf’s future, what do Plaintiffs care about the dust-collecting trophies of a bygone era?’
Judge Freeman also noted that the trio were aware of the consequences of joining LIV Golf before they jumped ship and had secured ‘large upfront payments’ to compensate for their defection from the PGA Tour.
She added: ‘TRO Plaintiffs each knew, going into negotiations with LIV Golf, that they were virtually certain to be cut off from TOUR play.
Judge Beth Labson Freeman noted the trio (pictured Hudson Swafford) were aware of the consequences of jumping ship from the PGA Tour to join LIV Golf
‘TRO Plaintiffs’ own expert indicated that PGA TOUR members that have “already elected to participate in LIV Golf events” required “large upfront payments” at least in part because their calculus included the “loss of opportunities to earn ranking points [and] to earn entry into the Majors.”‘
It comes after Rory McIlroy welcomed the judge’s ‘common sense’ decision to rule against the trio.
Speaking at a pre-tournament press conference, McIlroy said: ‘From my vantage point common sense prevailed and I thought it was the right decision.
‘It just lets us focus on the important stuff, which is the golf. We can all move forward and not have that sideshow going on for the next few weeks, which is nice.’