ST. ANDREWS in Scotland — The U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into the PGA Tour’s handling of its players. It also investigated whether the PGA Tour engaged in anticompetitive behavior while battling with the LIV Golf Invitational Series. The new circuit is being financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
According to player agents, the inquiry is focused on the PGA Tour’s actions regarding the Official World Golf Ranking and warnings it issued to players considering joining LIV Golf. Also, suspensions that were imposed against players who left Jay Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner.
A spokesperson for the PGA Tour confirmed that ESPN had been questioned by the DOJ. The Wall Street Journal first reported on Monday details of the investigation.
This was not unexpected, said the PGA Tour statement. We experienced this in 1994 and are confident in a similar outcome.
ESPN reported Monday that the agent of a player said that he was first contacted about three weeks ago by DOJ officials. His client had left PGA Tour to join LIV Golf. Because of the sensitive nature and urgency of the inquiry, the agent didnt want his identity or that the players to be revealed.
They launched an investigation into PGA Tour and wanted know if they were successful. [my client]Agent said that he would be willing and able to participate in a confidential and informal interview. They wanted to interview him about his interactions during the evolution LIV Golf with the PGA Tour.
The agent said that the DOJ attorneys were a little dog with a bone . Theyre doing this. Theyre so interested in this that I expect them to dig as far as they can. I could tell.
Monahan has suspended more than 20 LIV Golf players who competed at the first two LIV Golf events in London, England, as well as Portland, Oregon. He was not granted conflicting event releases. They include former major champions Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Sergio Garcia Phil Mickelson.
LIV Golf offered bonuses totaling more than $100,000,000 and purses of $25,000,000 for each event.
Some players, including former Masters champions Patrick ReedGarcia and Garcia have resigned as PGA Tour players.
Another agent said that the DOJ is investigating whether the PGA Tour and DP World Tour conspired to deny Official World Golf Ranking points to LIV golfers. The world ranking points were not awarded to the 48 LIV players who participated in the first two LIV events.
Three players, including a longtime PGA Tour member Ian PoulterThey were granted a stay by a British court to participate in the Scottish Open last week. They were banned from participating in the event, which is cosponsored by the PGA Tour & DP World Tour.
1994 saw the Federal Trade Commission investigate whether the PGA Tour violated federal laws. It required its members to get permission from the commissioner to appear on other golf TV shows and to play in outside events. The probe was ended by the FTC without penalizing PGA Tour.
LIV Golf CEO Greg NormanTwo-time Open champion,, has argued professional golfers are independent contractors who should be allowed the freedom to play wherever they choose.
Norman wrote Monahan a February letter saying, Surely you jost. Surely, your lawyers at PGA Tour must be holding their breath. You have threatened players on the PGA Tour who are all independent contractors with lifetime bans if any of their golf leagues is sponsored by anyone else than the Tour, as has been widely reported.
But if you try to bluff or intimidate players by bullying them and threatening their lives, you are likely to be in violation of federal law.