Lawsuit against PGA Tour cites Augusta National Golf Club, chairman

A golf ball sits in the rough during the final round of the 2014 John Deere Classic in Silvis,...
A golf ball sits in the rough during the final round of the 2014 John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill on Sunday, July 13, 2014. (Adam Wesley/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 1:33 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - An antitrust lawsuit filed against the PGA tour alleges that Augusta National Golf Club threatened to disinvite LIV Golf players to the Masters.

Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, and nine other players who joined the Saudi-funded LIV Golf filed the lawsuit Wednesday.

The PGA Tour earlier denied releases for players who wanted to compete in LIV events and ultimately suspended those players’ memberships. The lawsuit claims the Tour has used monopoly power to try to squash competition and has unfairly suspended players.

One of the claims in the lawsuit cited Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters.

In complaint 159, the plaintiffs claimed that “Augusta National, the promoter of The Masters, has taken multiple actions to indicate its alignment with the PGA Tour, thus seeding doubt among top professional golfers whether they would be banned from future Masters Tournaments.”

The plaintiffs argue that in February 2022, “Augusta National representatives threatened to disinvite players from The Masters if they joined LIV Golf. The lawsuit also alleged that Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley personally instructed a number of participants in the 2022 Masters not to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series.”

The plaintiffs say the “threats to top players served no beneficial purpose, as they would only serve to weaken the field in the Masters.”

In complaint 160, the plaintiffs also argued that in May 2022, “the PGA Tour also encouraged Augusta National representatives to attend Tour Player Advisory Council meetings to discuss ramifications for players participating in LIV Golf events, further demonstrating how the Tour has leaned on Augusta National to aid it in dissuading golfers from joining LIV Golf.”

The lawsuit reached further to include communication between Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, stating that allegedly when “Norman asked Mr. Ridley if he would meet with him to understand LIV Golf’s business model and discuss how LIV Golf could operate in the existing professional golf world, Mr. Ridley declined the invitation—another example of LIV Golf trying to work with existing golfing entities and being turned away before even getting an opportunity to show them what LIV Golf is about.”

News 12 has reached out to Augusta National Golf Club and has not yet received a comment.

Read the full lawsuit below (complaints 159-160 can be found on page 52 of the lawsuit).

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