PGA Tour Faces Justice Department Probe Over Saudi-Backed Circuit
Jul 12, 2022
By Gerry Smith | July 12, 2022
New You can now listen to Insurance Journal articles! The US Justice Department is investigating the PGA Tour over potential antitrust violations related to its ongoing dispute with a Saudi-backed rival circuit. The department’s antitrust division has sent inquiries to golfers’ agents about the tour’s bylaws on participating in other golf events, and its actions related to LIV Golf, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the probe, citing a person familiar with the inquiries. “This was not unexpected,” a PGA Tour spokesperson said in a statement. “We went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome.”
LIV Golf, which debuted last month in England, is golf’s biggest controversy since the Tiger Woods sex scandal. Backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, it has lured some big stars, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, with enormous prize money and a lighter schedule. For defecting to a rival circuit, the golfers have been suspended from the PGA Tour. In the 1990s, the PGA Tour fended off a Federal Trade Commission investigation over its rules, including one that barred golfers from playing on rival tours without its permission. Back then, the Australian golfer Greg Norman planned to launch a rival circuit called “World Tour” and Fox had planned to acquire the broadcast rights. The PGA Tour warned players they’d be suspended for joining the World Tour and argued its rules were needed to ensure that TV networks and advertisers had enough good players. The commission ended its investigation in 1995 without taking any action. Today, Norman is CEO of LIV Golf and his relationship with the golf establishment has become rocky . For instance, he was not invited to an exhibition and dinner this week for former winners of the British Open before the event in Scotland. Copyright 2022 Bloomberg.