A new competing gold league that is poaching top U.S. players has managed to catch the attention of officials within the Department Of Justice (DOJ).
The Department has kicked off a full-scale investigation into the actions taken by the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) against the new Saudi-backed LIV Invitational Golf Series, according to a report sent from The Wall Street Street Journal.
this probing from the DOJ is looking into whether the actions taken by the PGA to stop its hemorrhaging of players from going to the rival league cross the line into anti-competitive behavior, claimed one source to the outlet.
The PGA Tour has issued suspensions to players who have chosen to play in the eight-week LIV series, which provoked Greg Norman, the LIV Chairman, to call out the tour for running an “illegal monopoly.”
“This was not unexpected,” explained a spokesperson for the PGA Tour to The Journal. “We went through this in 1994, and we are confident in a similar outcome,” stated the person, highlighting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the PGA over the players’ power to play in other non-PGA events, a probe the FTC canceled just one year later.
Just last week, another pair of players from the PGA chose to head over the Saudi-backed upstart league. 43-year-old Charles Howell III, who has not placed first at a tournament since back in 2018, and 37-year-old Jason Kokrak, who had two victories in 2021, announced that they are leaving in favor of joining the LIV Gold Invitational Series. The two players from the U.S. stepped up alongside 46-year-old Henrik Stenson, who is a two-time European Golfer of the Year that won the British Open back in 2016.
In the same vein, former President Donald Trump, who owns a large number of golf courses all over the world, leaped directly into the battle between the rival leagues, which has managed to lure quite a few top golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau with hundreds of millions of dollars.
“All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes, and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who are making Millions of Dollars a year,” Trump stated via social media. “If you don’t take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were. Good luck to all, and congratulations to really talented Cam Smith on his incredible WIN!”
Over the past few weeks, a large number of PGA members announced that they would be leaving the PGA, which holds the title of the top league in the world, in order to join the LIV. Among those that have left are Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Andy Ogletree, Branden Grace, Matt Jones, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein, Lee Westwood, and Turk Petit.
“We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation,” stated a release from the PGA just last month. “The players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup. This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.”
“The players listed below did not receive the necessary conflicting events and media rights releases — or did not apply for releases at all — and their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is a violation of our Tournament Regulations,” concluded the PGA.