PGA Tour asks judge to deny LIV trio berths in playoffs

American Talor Gooch is among three players from the LIV Golf Series seeking a berth in the US PGA Tour's FedEx Cup playoffs in a legal motion that has been challenged by the PGA
AFP

The US PGA Tour filed a motion in federal court on Monday asking three LIV Golf players not be allowed to compete in this week’s FedEx Cup playoff opener.

Arguing LIV Golf players knew there would be consequences for leaving the PGA for the Saudi-backed upstart series, the PGA said in US District Court for Northern California that they can not “have their cake and eat it too.”

Australian Matt Jones and Americans Talor Gooch and Hudson Swafford will have a hearing on Tuesday afternoon in San Jose on their request for a temporary restraining order forcing them to be allowed to compete at this week’s St. Jude Championship at Memphis.

The PGA Tour called the players’ motion “legally baseless” in its filing and added their decision to wait two months after leaving to file the motion was “fabricating an ’emergency’ they now maintain requires immediate action.”

The PGA said players knew their actions would bring suspensions and noted other LIV players who could have playoff spots based on top 125 points finishers in the PGA season have opted not to ask for such spots.

“The players’ purported harm is entirely self-induced,” the PGA filing said.

The three players were among 11 who filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last week, the first legal blow in a fight over the future of elite-level golf that could take years to settle.

LIV Golf offered record $25 million purses and lured away several of the sport’s top names from the US PGA Tour, prompting the PGA to make major prize money boosts for many events next season.

Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Louis Oosthuizen and Martin Kaymer are among those who have cast their lot with LIV Golf.

The next LIV Golf event will not be contested until after the PGA playoffs, with this week’s top 70 in points advancing to next week’s BMW Championship and the top 30 making it to the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Gooch was 20th in FedEx Cup points with Jones 65th and Swafford 67th but they have been suspended since teeing off in their first LIV Golf event.

There are currently only 122 players in the field at Memphis as three of those who made the lineup have dropped out.

England’s Tommy Fleetwood cited personal reasons while American Daniel Berger has not played since the US Open due to a back injury and American Lanto Griffin said in July he was likely done for the season after back surgery.

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