A federal judge Tuesday denied a temporary restraining order, allowing the PGA Tour to restrict access to the 2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs from three Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf players who filed a lawsuit in hopes of participating in the postseason competition. Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford will not play in any of the three tournaments as the PGA Tour's motion to deny was granted by U.S. District Court Judge Beth Labson Freeman.
"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 monetize to compensate for those losses," Judge Freeman said in her ruling. "I do agree with [the PGA Tour] that those losses were well known to the players at the time and clearly monetized."
Citing the inability of the LIV golfers to prove irreparable harm in their case, Judge Freeman added: "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."
The decision in a Northern District of California courtroom gives the PGA Tour its first clear win over LIV Golf. The ruling comes two days before play begins at the 2022 St. Jude Championship to kick off the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Gooch (No. 20), Jones (No. 65) and Swafford (No. 67) will be unable to capitalize on their respective positions in the FedEx Cup standings; all on the inside track to not only play in this week's event in Memphis but also next week's BMW Championship where the top 70 players qualify. Gooch was in a strong position to finish inside the top 30, which would have put him into the Tour Championship where exemptions into next year's Masters, U.S. Open and The Open are provided.
"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 FedExCup Playoffs," said PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in a statement.
A group of 10 LIV golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau -- initially 11 until Carlos Ortiz removed his name from the proceedings -- filed an antitrust lawsuit in federal court last week in hopes of being allowed to play on the PGA Tour again. The PGA Tour insisted that the golfers made a conscious decision to leave its membership when they chose to play for LIV. Therefore, those golfers were not eligible to play future PGA Tour events.
Judge Freeman agreed, citing the PGA Tour's position that the golfers knew the consequences of their decision to play for LIV Golf.
"Despite knowing full well that they would breach Tour regulations and be suspended for doing so, plaintiffs have joined competing golf league LIV Golf, which has paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money supplied by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund to procure their breaches," the PGA Tour stated in its motion. "[Temporary restraining order] plaintiffs now run into court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the Tour's season-ending FedEx Cup Playoffs, an action that would harm all Tour members that follow the rules. The antitrust laws do not allow plaintiffs to have their cake and eat it too."
While the PGA Tour won this judgment, the legal tussle between the leagues is expected to continue as the broader antitrust lawsuit has yet to be decided. The onset of this legal saga traces back to June 9 when the PGA Tour suspended members who participated in the inaugural LIV Golf event in London. Some chose to resign their PGA Tour memberships, while others aimed to fight for the ability to play in both leagues.
"They made a business decision to receive money," PGA Tour lawyer Elliot Peters stated. "They have made -- in the last two months -- more money than they've ever made on the PGA Tour. They have already been paid to compensate for what they are here complaining about."
LIV Golf members will now turn their attention to Boston for the league's next event, scheduled for Sept. 2-4.
LIV Golfer's will not be allowed to participate in the FedEx Cup Playoffs after a court ruling on Tuesday. Rick Gehman, Kyle Porter and Sia Nejad break it all down. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.