Friday, August 19, 2022

PGA Tour under DOJ investigation: Antitrust probe launched as league battles with upstart LIV Golf

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In its ongoing fight versus LIV Golf, the PGA Tour has been imposed by yet another wrinkle to their plans. The Department of Justice is investigating the PGA Tour and whether anticompetitive practices have been used against the rival golf league, officials confirmed to the Wall Street Journal.

The DOJ’s antitrust division has wasted no time launching their investigation. Players from the PGA Tour have already received initial inquiries regarding the governing bylaws and the PGA Tour’s actions over the last few months.

While the headline may convey a sense of uneasiness, the PGA Tour was expecting such a probe. History had the league prepared, as it experienced something similar in 1994 when the Federal Trade Commission looked into the tour for requiring players to seek permission to play in non-PGA Tour events.

“This was not unexpected,” a PGA Tour spokesman told the Wall Street Journal. “We went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome.”

This is the second legal ramification to emerge from the LIV Golf saga, as just last week a judge temporarily delayed the DP World Tour ban on players who defected to the Saudi-backed tour. This decision allowed the likes of Ian Poulter, Branden Grace, Justin Harding and Adrian Otaegui to participate in the Scottish Open — a co-sanctioned event between the DP World Tour and PGA Tour. 

There are a number of avenues this investigation can potentially take. The DOJ may simply end the investigation, similar to the PGA Tour’s legal battle in 1994, or the exact opposite may occur and legal actions will be taken against the PGA Tour for anticompetitive practices. Lastly, the individual players from LIV Golf, such as Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, etc. may file a lawsuit. 

The latter has been the action which has been the floating around since the PGA Tour announced its punishments for those who sided with LIV Golf. As has been the case for the entirety of this clash, only time will tell what exactly the consequences (if any) of this investigation will be.

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