Saudi Tour rebels are NOT earning mega-money prize purses in addition to lucrative signing-on fees, LIV Golf lawyer reveals in court bombshell, as they claim winnings are ‘recouped against stars’ contracts’
- Champions of each LIV Golf event are said to pocket $4million in winnings
- Players have joined the breakaway for eight or nine-figure singing-on fees
- The Saudi-funded series insisted the prize purses are in addition to the contracts
- Three LIV players had a hearing for a temporary restraining order on Tuesday
- At the hearing, an attorney said prize money is ‘recouped against the contracts’
A LIV Golf lawyer implied that the Saudi-backed series has lied about prize purses after claiming winnings were ‘recouped against’ the rebels’ mega-money contracts.
The breakaway, which is funded by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, has lured some of the sport’s biggest names away with lucrative offers and massive prize funds.
However, it now appears some of those players may not see a dime of those winnings.
On Tuesday, three LIV Golf players Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford had their request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to be able to play in the FedEx Cup standings this week denied.
The trio are part of 11 players who filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour after being suspended for playing in the Saudi-backed breakaway series.
During the hearing, one of the players’ lawyers said that the money allegedly won during LIV Golf events is ‘recouped against the LIV contracts.’
However, this contradicted insistences LIV Golf has previously made that the winnings are in addition to the mega-money signing-on fees some players have pocketed.
The prize purses were previously called into question after Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee reported that the prize money presumably awarded at LIV Golf events was taken out of players’ signing bonuses in June.
A LIV lawyer claimed winnings were ‘recouped against’ the rebels’ mega-money contracts
The revelation came during a hearing over Talor Gooch (right), Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford’s request for a temporary restraining order to play the PGA Tour’s playoff events
Later in the hearing, microphones picked up LIV Golf’s lawyers discussing the admission, according to Golf Digest.
Although the entire conversation was not audible, ‘Chamblee’ could reportedly be heard being mentioned by one of the representatives.
Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez were questioned by the media on the matter ahead of their introductory event in Portland at the end of June.
Koepka, four-time major champion, initially claimed that it was not the case before admitting he actually wasn’t sure but insisted it was ‘irrelevant’.
Brooks Koepka (center), Patrick Reed (right) and Pat Perez (left) were questioned on the matter
A LIV Golf representative then attempted to shut down the matter as she said: ‘I just wanted to address [the] question earlier when you were asking about the prize purses and if they are in addition to the contracts.
‘The prize purses are in addition to. There is no draw at LIV Golf on any finances. We just wanted to, on the record, it’s in addition to. And while you guys have, this is your first event, but you should know that from your contracts. You can attest to it. Thank you guys.’
However, that does not appear to be the case, at least not according to one of LIV’s own attorneys.
Henrik Stenson’s defection, which cost him the European Ryder Cup captaincy, appeared to have been immediately rewarded at his first LIV event last month.
The Swede won the third instalment of the series at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster, New Jersey, the first event of the series he played in.
Henrik Stenson was immediately rewarded for his defection, winning $4million in Bedminster
The victory saw him pocket $4million, meaning he earned nearly 24 times what he made over 13 PGA Tour events this season – $184,317.
The 46-year-old, who had not won a tournament since 2019, reportedly joined the breakaway for $49m but it is now unclear whether his $4m in winnings has been recouped against that massive pay check.
Meanwhile, Charl Schwartzel made off with a record $4.75m for winning both the individual and team competition at the inaugural event, which saw him earn almost $88,000 per hole.
The same weekend, Rory McIlroy defended his Canadian Open title on the PGA Tour, winning just £1.27m in comparison.
Charl Schwartzel made off with a record $4.75m at the inaugural LIV Golf event in June
But the winner of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs, beginning this week at the St Jude Championship and ending with the Tour Championship in September, will claim a cool $18m.
Despite the huge winnings being cast into doubt in court, LIV Golf have maintained they are telling the truth.
‘Our counsel was responding to a different question about recouping or offsetting FedEx Cup earnings,’ a LIV spokesperson told Golf Digest. ‘We maintain that every player’s contract is separate from prize money.’
Gooch, Jones and Swafford lost their case to get a TRO Tuesday, while the other plaintiffs, including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Ian Poulter, are expected to have their antitrust lawsuit heard at a later date with a trial resulting from the suit likely to start August 2023 at the earliest.