The Department has launched an investigation into the actions the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) has taken against the new Saudi-backed LIV Invitational Golf Series, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
DOJ is probing whether actions taken by the PGA to prevent players from going to the rival league amount to anti-competitive behavior, a source told the paper.
The PGA Tour has suspended players who have opted to play in the eight-week LIV series, which prompted LIV Chairman Greg Norman to charge the tour with running an “illegal monopoly.”
“This was not unexpected,” a PGA Tour spokesperson told The Journal. “We went through this in 1994, and we are confident in a similar outcome,” the person said, noting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the PGA over players’ right to play in non-PGA events, a probe the FTC dropped the following year.
Last week, two more PGA players jumped to the Saudi-backed upstart league. Charles Howell III, 43, who hasn’t won a tournament since 2018, and Jason Kokrak, 37, who won twice in 2021, announced they are bailing to join the LIV Golf Invitational Series. The two U.S. players joined Henrik Stenson, 46, a two-time European Golfer of the Year who won the British Open in 2016.
Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump, who owns numerous golf courses around the world, jumped into the fray over the rival league, which has lured top golfers like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Bryson DeChambeau with hundreds of millions of dollars.
“All of those golfers that remain ‘loyal’ to the very disloyal PGA, in all of its different forms, will pay a big price when the inevitable MERGER with LIV comes, and you get nothing but a big ‘thank you’ from PGA officials who are making Millions of Dollars a year,” Trump wrote on social media. “If you don’t take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were. Good luck to all, and congratulations to really talented Cam Smith on his incredible WIN!”
In recent weeks, a slew of PGA members announced they would bail from the top league in the world to join LIV. Among them are Sergio Garcia, Talor Gooch, Andy Ogletree, Branden Grace, Matt Jones, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Charl Schwartzel, Hudson Swafford, Peter Uihlein, Lee Westwood, and Turk Petit.
The exodus prompted the PGA to take serious action.
“We have followed the Tournament Regulations from start to finish in responding to those players who have decided to turn their backs on the PGA Tour by willfully violating a regulation,” a PGA release last month read. “The players are being notified that they are suspended or otherwise no longer eligible to participate in PGA Tour tournament play, including the Presidents Cup. This also applies to all tours sanctioned by the PGA Tour: the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Champions, PGA Tour Canada and PGA Tour Latinoamerica.”
“The players listed below did not receive the necessary conflicting events and media rights releases — or did not apply for releases at all — and their participation in the Saudi Golf League/LIV Golf event is a violation of our Tournament Regulations,” the PGA added.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as a White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.