Just over two weeks out from their first event of the 2023 season, the LIV Golf train continues to barrel through a lawsuit with the PGA Tour - and documents from the US court case reveal that the Saudi-backed series are not happy with their American counterparts.
The contentious debut season of LIV Golf in 2022 brought condemnation from the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, and more who chose to stick with the long-standing PGA Tour, but many big names defected to the breakaway series.
Major winners Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Sergio Garcia, and, perhaps most prominently, Phil Mickelson, were part of the star-studded cast who lined up for the inaugural LIV Invitational Series, which ran 54-hole events with no cut.
Despite the format changes - made in order to increase excitement - and the big names on show, the US Court documents reveal that LIV Golf made "virtually zero" revenue during 2022 - and it appears that Greg Norman and co. blame their foes at the PGA Tour for that.
LIV Golf slam PGA Tour lawsuit
LIV Golf was born ahead of the 2022 season with the backing of Middle Eastern investment in the form of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, and its links to the Gulf state have only amplified the controversy surrounding its birth.
An ongoing lawsuit between LIV and the series which it broke away from has seen the PGA Tour seek to add the PIF to the plaintiffs of its countersuit against LIV.
In US Federal Court Documents shared by the Guardian on Tuesday, quotes from LIV Golf were revealed which accuse the PGA Tour of attempting to undermine the breakaway series:
Delay [in the court case] will equally harm LIV because the Tour continues its anticompetitive conduct while the litigation is pending.
The Tour has damaged LIV's brand, driven up its costs by hundreds of millions of dollars, and driven down revenues to virtually zero.
The fallout from LIV Golf's birth has been a bitter one, and has seen players affiliated with the Saudi-backed league barred from PGA and DP World Tour events. Most notably, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein were suspended by the PGA Tour after competing in LIV Golf events without prior clearance. Naturally, the LIV Golf documents released on Tuesday had something to say about this:
The prejudice to Plaintiffs Jones and Uihlein from delay is clear: they risk being unable to earn a living in their chosen profession during the prime of their careers.
Mr Jones and Mr Uihlein have no secure ability to pursue their profession in 2024. Some Player Plaintiffs are not under contract with LIV past 2023, and are banned from the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and other tours around the world. Player Plaintiffs are denied playing opportunities they had earned and need resolution on the enforceability of the Tour’s Regulations, suspensions, and conduct.
And several other golfers in LIV and other professional and collegiate golfers who are considering playing in the Asian Tour or on LIV are making decisions about their future and need clarity from the Court. Plaintiffs need relief soon and certainly no later than the current January 2024 trial.
Fallout has led to clashes between players off the course as well, with Patrick Reed and Rory McIlroy's feud coming to a head during the recent Dubai Desert Classic - won by PGA man McIlroy, who said the victory was unusually sweet because of who he had beaten to the trophy.
The 2023 LIV Golf season gets underway in Mexico on the 26th of February, with an event in Mayakoba presenting a potential $20,000,000 winning purse to the winning individual golfer, and $5,000,000 to the winning team. The numbers involved are startling - as are the zeros attached to the series' revenue.