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PGA TOUR countersues LIV, alleges Phil, Bryson recruited new members

David Becker / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The PGA TOUR has responded to LIV Golf's antitrust lawsuit, countersuing the Saudi-funded league in a U.S. District Court, according to Golf Digest's Joel Beall.

The TOUR is also accusing LIV Golf members Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson of recruiting PGA members to join the rival circuit.

The original antitrust lawsuit filed in August, which aimed to "strike down the PGA TOUR's anticompetitive rules and practices that prevent these independent-contractor golfers from playing when and where they choose," featured 11 players, including Mickelson and DeChambeau. However, Mickelson and three others asked to be removed from the lawsuit on Tuesday. Only three players - DeChambeau, Peter Uihlein, and Matt Jones - remain involved in the lawsuit.

In its 72-page filing, the TOUR states that the countersuit stems from LIV Golf's "tortious inducement of numerous, repeated breaches of contract" by former PGA members, including Mickelson and DeChambeau. It also states that LIV Golf is simply a sportswashing effort by Saudi Arabia.

"Golfers who join LIV must sign long-term exclusive contracts that require them to participate in all LIV events and prohibit them from playing in any TOUR events occurring in the same week as any LIV event (or any conflicting event whatsoever)," the countersuit reads. "LIV's statements regarding golfer freedom are a thinly-veiled public relations ploy concocted to disparage the TOUR and deflect criticism from LIV's own restrictive business model."

The PGA TOUR is seeking compensation for "damages suffered as a result of LIV's tortious interference with the TOUR's contracts with LIV players, including any lost profits, damages to reputational and brand harm, costs, punitive damages, reasonable attorneys' fees, and pre-suit costs."

A tentative date for summary judgment in the antitrust case is set for July 23, 2023. A trial is expected to begin on Jan. 8, 2024.

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