The LIV Golf v. PGA Tour case began with Phil Mickelson and 10 other LIV golfers arguing the PGA Tour adopted policies to maintain monopoly control over pro golf. However, the lawsuit, which had recently named just Bryson DeChambeau and Matt Jones as golfer-plaintiffs, will now proceed without any golfers.
The revelation was uncovered in a court filing by LIV and the PGA Tour in a California federal court late Monday. The filing—a joint updated case management document—featured dueling statements from the two leagues in which they argue over scheduling matters. The two leagues disagree over how pretrial discovery can continue while the Public Investment Fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (PIF), which backs LIV Golf, and PIF’s governor, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, appeal an order they comply with a subpoena.
“All of the former player plaintiffs have dismissed their claims or publicly stated they will do so shortly,” the PGA Tour wrote. “This is now only a case between two competing golf leagues—there are no player plaintiffs left in the litigation.”
The PGA Tour maintains that PIF and Al-Rumayyan, whom the PGA Tour has sued, are crucial to the case, and their objection to participating denies the PGA Tour of essential persons from which to gather evidence and understand legal arguments.
Given that the case no longer involves golfers, the PGA Tour writes, “there is no exigency or reason to push this case forward on an impossible schedule that will significantly prejudice the PGA Tour due to PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan’s wholesale disregard of their discovery obligations.”
LIV disagrees, arguing its “exigency has not been diminished by the voluntary dismissals of the Player Plaintiffs.” Just the opposite, LIV contends: “The players’ decision to leave this litigation in LIV’s hands demonstrates the need for an injunction.” LIV blames the PGA Tour for “delay tactics” and says the players will instead focus on their careers, letting LIV pursue these claims alone.
The case is currently set for trial on May 17, 2024, though it could face delays in light of ongoing scheduling disagreements and LIV’s and Al-Rumayyan’s appeal. In the filing, the PGA Tour proposes the trial date be pushed back to Nov. 12, 2024.
How long the litigation lasts will impact the two leagues and the golfers they recruit. LIV has resorted to higher pay and more guaranteed money as a way of convincing golfers to join. Whether LIV is prepared to continue that practice for what might amount to years of litigation and whether golfers will remain interested in LIV during that time are unknown.