Report: Department of Justice investigating PGA Tour for ‘anti-competitive behavior’ against LIV Golf
The PGA Tour again finds itself under the microscope of the Department of Justice.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the DOJ has launched an investigation into potential “anti-competitive behavior” by the PGA Tour as it relates to the Tour’s response to LIV Golf.
The Tour, so far, has suspended 24 total players who competed in at least one of the first two events held by the Saudi-backed rival circuit, which has signed stars such as Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson in recent months.
GolfChannel.com’s Rex Hoggard spoke with at least one agent representing a LIV member who said that their player has been contacted by attorneys from the DOJ’s anti-trust division.
“This was not unexpected,” a Tour spokesperson told GolfChannel.com. “We went through this in 1994, and we are confident in a similar outcome.”
In 1994, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that the PGA Tour had broken anti-trust laws in requiring that members obtain releases to compete in non-PGA Tour events or televised golf events outside of the Tour umbrella. That same year, Greg Norman, current CEO of LIV Golf, was spearheading an effort to launch the World Golf Tour, a proposed rival tour that never materialized.
However, the FTC dropped the probe without taking any action.
The PGA Tour’s bylaws allow its members up to three releases per season (outside of North America), though players are still prohibited from competing in televised non-PGA Tour events.
Hoggard also spoke with a lawyer, who predicted that the investigation could lead to a similar outcome as in 1994, or it could lead to a lawsuit, either from the individual players or the DOJ itself.
The timing of the investigation comes as President Joe Biden is expected to visit Saudi Arabia this week to discuss a myriad of issues, most notably oil and human rights.