Judge denies LIV Golf request to expand discovery to Augusta members

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LIV Golfs request to expand the scope of discovery in its antitrust case against the PGA Tour to include communication between 10 Augusta National members and former Secretary of State Condoleezza rice was denied by a federal judge.

LIV Golf had issued subpoenas for five PGA Tour board member and Tim Finchem (retired PGA Tour commissioner). It wanted all communications between them with any member Augusta National regarding a new tour, including those with LIV Golf, a Saudi-funded rival league, which was launched last summer.

LIV Golf alleged Warren Stephens, a Arkansas banking executive, apparently attempted to influence the Justice Department to not investigate the PGA Tour in a redacted filing.

LIV Golf also said Stephens was apparently pressed by tour employees to push Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas to lobby against LIV.

U.S. Magistrate Susan van Keulen ruled Monday that LIV Golfs request to 10 additional Augusta National members as well as the Masters Committee was too burdensome on the Subpoenaed Parties and not in proportion to the litigation needs.

Communication with the additional 10 member would have gone beyond agreed-upon goals. These were the four Augusta National employees, which included Chairman Fred Ridley, as well as seven other members. Brian Roberts is the CEO of Comcast and owns Golf Channel.

LIV Golf lawyers argued that the PGA Tour attempted to stifle competition from the new tour by threatening players, broadcasters, vendors, and any other third parties if they worked for LIV Golf.

Discovery shows that the tour delivered such threats not just through its own executives, employees, but by dispatching others influential persons on its behalf, LIV Golf lawyers wrote in the filing.

The judge stated that any connection between LIV Golf documents and the judges assertions was highly speculational.

She wrote in her order, The cited documents dont implicate in anyway the Subpoenaed Parties. They also do not reflect communications by or among the identified additional targets. The majority of the targets are simply names on lists or other oblique references that have been made by others.

Tour attorneys had previously argued that LIV Golfs accusations that Augusta National was trying to stop LIV Golf players from playing in the Masters were baseless. The Masters announced in December that all eligible players would be able play.

The 16 LIV players who are eligible to play in the Masters include Bryson deChambeauHe is still listed as one of the three plaintiffs in the antitrust lawsuit.

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