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A federal judge in California ruled that three LIV golfers cannot participate in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs that begin this week.
Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford filed a temporary restraining order against the PGA Tour last week, arguing that they qualified for the playoffs before defecting to LIV Golf and should be able to participate. PGA responded with a motion to block it, thus Tuesday’s court hearing.
The golfers also argued that since LIV is currently on a hiatus from events (they won’t pick back up until Labor Day Weekend), they were free agents and independent contractors.
However, PGA has maintained that anyone who joins LIV Golf will be barred from participating in Tour-sponsored events, as well as the upcoming Presidents Cup.
“These players have made their choice for their own financial-based reasons,” a memo from Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said. “But they can’t demand the same PGA Tour membership benefits, considerations, opportunities and platform as you. That expectation disrespects you, our fans and our partners.”
Robert Walters, an antitrust litigators representing the LIV golfers, argued that the upcoming playoffs are “the Super Bowl of golf” and give them an opportunity at “significant income opportunities.” The winner of the playoffs will receive $18 million.
PGA TOUR WON’T ALLOW LIV GOLFERS WHO QUALIFIED FOR FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS AT FIRST PLAYOFF EVENT
However, PGA Tour attorney Elliot Peters said allowing Gooch, Jones and Swafford to play could lead to free advertising for LIV Golf and “change the status quo” for the Tour.
Attorneys from both sides met with Judge Beth Labson Freeman, and each spoke for over an hour before she made her decision.
The Top 125 golfers qualify for the first event: the St. Jude Invitational. Gooch is ranked 20th, while Jones and Swafford are ranked 65th and 67th, respectively.
Due to their disqualifications, Rickie Fowler was on the outside looking in, but is now in the field this weekend.
Source: Fox News