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PGA Tour scores legal victory over LIV Golf defectors

The PGA Tour scored at least one victory in its ongoing battle with the controversial Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series.

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that three players who bolted for LIV, were suspended by the tour and were seeking to be allowed to compete in the FedEx Cup Playoffs — which begin this week in Memphis — will not be granted emergency injunctive relief to be allowed to play in the tour’s postseason series. The decision came during a two-hour hearing in San Jose, Calif., where Judge Beth Labson Freeman ruled against Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford, saying they knew they’d be suspended by the tour for joining the rival circuit and were well-compensated for doing so.

PGA Tour
Elliot Peter (l.), an attorney representing the PGA Tour, leaves a U.S. courthouse in San Jose, Calif. on Tuesday.

“I find the plaintiffs have not established irreparable harm,” Freeman said, citing that the contracts the players signed with LIV took into account money that would be lost by leaving the tour.

The ruling is a significant one for the tour in what is expected to be a long string of legal battles between the two organizations.

It also potentially puts the chances of playing in next year’s majors in danger for the trio — players who advance through the playoffs to reach the season-ending Tour Championship are guaranteed a spot in three of golf’s four major championships.

Hudson Swafford
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The three players’ motion was separate from the larger antitrust lawsuit that was filed last week by 11 players — including Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and Gooch — with the group claiming they were unfairly suspended. The tour in response said it is a member organization with rules and regulations that players choose to abide by.

The FedEx St. Jude Championship begins on Thursday.

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