DOJ probes PGA Tour for possible antitrust violations tied to LIV Golf


PGA Tour brand in the course of the third spherical of the Vacationers Championship on June 24, 2017, at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Fred Kfoury | Icon Sportswire | Getty Photos

The Justice Division is investigating whether or not the PGA Tour’s actions relating to rival LIV Golf had been anti-competitive, the tour confirmed Monday.

The investigation, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, comes after the tour final month indefinitely suspended 17 players, together with main championship winners Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, after they selected to compete within the Saudi-backed LIV Golf event.

The Division of Justice has reached out to gamers’ brokers concerning the tour’s actions referring to LIV Golf in addition to its bylaws relating to the flexibility of gamers to compete in different golf occasions, the Journal reported, citing an individual conversant in the inquiries. The identical bylaws had been the topic of a 1994 investigation by the Federal Commerce Fee, which was in the end dropped.

“This was not sudden,” a tour consultant advised CNBC on Monday. “We went by way of this in 1994 and we’re assured in an identical final result.”

A consultant for the Justice Division declined to remark.

LIV Golf, which is primarily funded by  Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund, has provided file prize cash to draw gamers to its league. Mickelson, whose deal with LIV is reportedly price about $200 million, has been criticized for aligning with the brand new league regardless of the Saudi authorities’s historical past of human rights abuses, together with its involvement within the homicide of Washington Publish columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

“They execute individuals over there for being homosexual. Understanding all of this, why would I even contemplate it? As a result of this can be a once-in-a-lifetime alternative to reshape how the PGA Tour operates,” Mickelson said in February.

When the tour introduced the suspension of the 17 gamers in a June memo to members, it stated the gamers had made their decisions “for their very own financial-based causes” however that they cannot demand the identical membership advantages, alternatives and platform.

“That expectation disrespects you, our followers and our companions,” the memo stated.

A consultant for LIV Golf declined to remark. On its web site, LIV Golf says its mission is to “modernize and supercharge” golf by way of “expanded alternatives for each gamers and followers alike.”

CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this report.

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