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PGA Tour Escalates Conflict with LIV Golf, Files Motion to Add Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Governor as Defendants

The PGA Tour has escalated its confrontation with LIV Golf, a rival golf tour backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and its governor, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, with a motion filed in federal court to add the PIF and Al-Rumayyan as defendants in the tour's countersuit against LIV Golf.[0]

The PGA Tour’s lawyers allege that LIV Golf's subscriptions and shareholders’ agreement, which they obtained through discovery in December, was the “lynchpin which demonstrated PIF and Mr. Al-Rumayyan's total control over LIV and established that any LIV contract with a player requires authorization by PIF.”[1]

The tour’s attorneys also argued that recently produced documents from LIV Golf confirm that the PIF and Al-Rumayyan played an active role in causing golfers to breach their contracts with the PGA Tour by joining the LIV Golf circuit.[2]

In the motion, the PGA Tour’s lawyers allege that “in addition to approving player contracts that pledge to indemnify such players from breach of their contractual obligations to the Tour, Mr. Al-Rumayyan himself has gone as far as to provide personal assurances to at least one player about his and PIF’s commitment to backing such players in any legal claims by the Tour.”[0]

The attorneys have unsuccessfully sought documents from the PIF through discovery and so far have been unable to depose Al-Rumayyan.[1] The attorneys alleged in the court filing that the PIF and Al-Rumayyan believe “that no court in the United States has jurisdiction over them, they are immune from compulsory process, and they have no information or documents relevant to the case.”[1]

The ongoing dispute between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf began when 11 professional golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch and Matt Jones, sued the PGA in August for suspending them after they signed on with LIV.[3] LIV Golf eventually joined the suit a month later, prompting Mickelson, Gooch and six others to withdraw from the suit.[4]

0. “PGA Tour Ramps Up Pursuit of PIF Evidence” Front Office Sports, 25 Jan. 2023, https://frontofficesports.com/pga-tour-lawyers-ramp-up-pursuit-of-pif-al-rumayyan-in-liv-golf-case/

1. “PGA Tour seeks to add Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to LIV lawsuit” ABC News, 25 Jan. 2023, https://abcnews.go.com/Sports/pga-tour-seeks-add-saudi-arabias-public-investment/story?id=96660356

2. “PGA Tour want PIF and Al-Rumayyan added to counter lawsuit against LIV Golf” Golfmagic.com, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.golfmagic.com/liv-golf/pga-tour-want-pif-and-al-rumayyan-added-counter-lawsuit-against-liv-golf

3. “PGA Tour Wants to Add Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund to LIV Golf Lawsuit” Bleacher Report, 9 Aug. 2022, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/10062945-pga-tour-wants-to-add-saudi-arabias-public-investment-fund-to-liv-golf-lawsuit

4. “PGA Goes After Saudi Fund and Its Chief as LIV Feud Widens” Yahoo! Voices, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/now/pga-seeks-sue-saudi-fund-021412731.html