What role have Augusta National and chairman Fred Ridley played in the current PGA Tour vs. LIV Golf Invitational Series scandal? More than you think if 105-page complaint filed by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine other players the request for a temporary restraining order to allow LIV defectors to compete in the upcoming FedEx Cup playoffs can be believed.
“Augusta National, the promoter of The Masters, has taken several actions to indicate its participation in the PGA Tour, thereby raising doubt among the best professional golfers whether they will be banned from participation in future Masters tournaments,” the antitrust lawsuit says. filed 11 LIV. golfers on Wednesday against the Tour. “To begin with, the links between the PGA Tour and the Augusta National are very deep. Augusta National’s actions indicate that the PGA Tour used these channels to pressure Augusta National to do his bidding. For example, in February 2022, representatives of Augusta National threatened to withdraw the invitation of players from The Masters if they joined LIV Golf.
It notes, among other things, that the Tour asked Augusta National officials to attend an “emergency meeting” of the players’ advisory board meeting in May prior to the first LIV Golf tournament following the course’s announcement “to discuss the implications for players participating in the tournament.” Liv Golf. While the officials were not present at the meeting, the plaintiffs said they informed the players who attended the meeting that the Tour and Augusta National had agreed to work together to resolve the LIV Golf issue.
“The threat of expulsion from the Masters is a powerful weapon in the Tour’s arsenal to deter players from joining LIV Golf,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also alleges that Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley worked behind the scenes against LIV Golf.
“In addition, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley has personally instructed a number of Masters 2022 participants not to participate in the LIV Golf Invitational Series. Obviously, these threats to top players did not bring any benefit, as they would only weaken the field in the Masters, ”the statement says.
The lawsuit also states that Ridley turned down a request to meet with LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
Ridley also allegedly called Asian Tour CEO Cho Minn Tan along with R&A CEO Martin Slumbers to “threaten repercussions related to Asian Tour’s position in the current ‘ecosystem’ if Asian Tour continues to support LIV Golf and its LIV Golf Invitational Series”.
In his only public comment regarding LIV Golf, Ridley said at the Masters in April: “Our mission is to always act in the best interests of the game, in whatever form it is taken. I think the golf is in good condition now. There are more participants, the fees on professional tours are the highest they have ever been. We’ve made it pretty clear that the world tours have done a great job of promoting the game over the years. Beyond that, there’s so much we don’t know about what might or might happen, I can’t say more than that.”
Six former Masters champions have moved on to LIV Golf – three-time champion Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwarzel and Bubba Watson, a two-time green jacket winner who announced his intentions last week that he would join LIV as soon as he recovers, and will begin his participation as a non-playing captain with the start of the next Labor Day Week event near Boston.
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