Australian Matt Jones and Americans Talor Gooch and Hudson Swafford, who signed up with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, have lost a court battle with the PGA to play in the FedExCup play-offs.
The PGA TOUR has suspended members for taking part in the rival series, and the three players had sought a temporary restraining order, allowing them to play at the first FedExCup play-off tournament which takes place from the 19th Auguest -5th September.
But US District Judge Beth Labson Freeman rejected their claim that the suspension was causing them “irreparable” harm, ruling that the huge payments offered by LIV “are based upon players’ calculations of what they were leaving behind”.
In a statement after the verdict, LIV Golf said that it was “disappointed” in the judgement, adding: “No-one gains by banning golfers from playing.”
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In total, 11 players, including Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter, are contesting their suspensions by the PGA, using anti-trust legislation. But only Matt Jones, Talor Gooch and Hudson Swafford were involved in the request for a restraining order allowing them to play in the FedExCup play-offs, which starts in Memphis on Thursday.
The $75m three-tournament event is already heading for controversy, as world number one Scottie Scheffler has spoken out against the players suing the PGA. “Those guys kind of made their decision to go join another tour and they broke the rules and regulations of our tour, and now they’re trying to sue us, which is definitely a bit frustrating,” he said. “It’s kind of part of it now. Guys are going to leave. There’s another tour going on and now they’re suing us, so there’s a lot going on.”
There’s speculation that other players, including Open champion Cameron Smith and fellow Australian Marc Leishman may be among players about to join LIV Golf, but Cameron Smith would not address the matter when questioned this week.
Scottie Scheffler, though, says he has ruled out joining LIV Golf, despite the $25m purse offered at its events, saying that it has never been his dream to chase “financial benefits”. “I’m not going to speak about the guys that are going to LIV and all that speculation. If that’s what they want to do, that’s what they want to do” he commented at a press conference. “The PGA Tour is where I want to play and it continues to be the place where the best golfers in the world play.”
The 2022 FedExCup Playoffs, the series of three tournaments that will determine the 2021–22 season champion on the U.S.-based PGA Tour, will be played from August 11–28. It will include the following three events:
- FedEx St. Jude Championship – TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee
- BMW Championship – Wilmington Country Club, Wilmington, Delaware
- Tour Championship – East Lake Golf Club, Atlanta, Georgia
They will be the 16th FedExCup playoffs since their inception in 2007.