The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

LIV Golf sellouts bailed on the PGA Tour. Now they want back in?

The “4 Aces” team (including Talor Gooch, second from left) won the team competition during LIV Golf's trip to Bedminster, N.J. (Seth Wenig/AP)
4 min

Emergency! Emergency! Talor Gooch seeks immediate injunctive relief to prevent “irreparable harm” to the commonplace golf career he himself has harmed. He insists on his right to horn in on $75 million in PGA Tour playoff money and compete on courses groomed to feather-down against a backdrop of bluebird song, even though he defected months ago to scoop up lockboxes of riyals and halalas from bloodcurdling Saudi government sport financiers. He seeks legal remedy for his suffering, before … what? He has to surrender his private gate key at TPC Southwind?

Every week, it seems, players such as Gooch — along with the increasingly mangy Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and other deserters to the Saudi golf exhibition circuit — manifest new forms of obliviousness to go with their remorseless greed. These are not millworkers taking on U.S. Steel to champion freedom for the working guy, as their preposterous antitrust lawsuit would make them out to be. They’re dealbreakers who do exactly as they please for profit. They willfully joined a disreputable competitor, knowingly violating the terms of their PGA Tour membership, in exchange for unconscionable bribes. They continue to pleasantly recreate for a living, play for scads of dirty money in pastoral bliss and feed handsomely off a game so undemanding that it’s not the slightest drawback to get fat.

Freedom of choice is what they exercised. Norma Raes in gaberdine, they are not. And their legal arguments are spit bubbles blown by conceited airheads.

Phil Mickelson, 10 other LIV golfers, file antitrust suit against PGA Tour

As the great Fran Lebowitz once told Vanity Fair, there is such a thing as an “immoral equation.” An immoral equation, as Lebowitz describes it, is privileged people falsely “equating their lot” with people who are genuinely oppressed. That’s what we have here with these hollow legal claims — an immoral equation.

These supposedly oppressed tradesmen charge the PGA Tour is an “monopolist” seeking to restrain them. “The purpose of this action is to strike down the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive rules and practices that prevent these independent-contractor golfers from playing when and where they choose,” a statement asserted last week.

First of all, who among the living gets to work, or play, when or where we choose?

Second, a monopolist exerts exclusive possession or control of something and prevents others from engaging in it. Nobody has prevented Gooch and his fellow opportunists from plying their trade — just last month they were at Donald Trump’s Bedminster, N.J., course, raking in coin from their bone-sawing backers. So far there have been three Saudi-funded events with $25 million in purses, and Gooch has played in all three, collecting $2.83 million for nine days of golf. That’s $314,000 for every 18 holes, with no cut. As the PGA Tour’s lawyer argues, Gooch and the others simply abandoned the PGA Tour for “a pile of cash.”

So it’s some nerve for Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford to seek emergency relief and claim the PGA Tour meanly and without fair warning barred them from this week’s opening event of the FedEx Cup playoffs, the St. Jude Championship, with its $15 million purse. The judge, Beth Labson Freeman, will hear arguments Tuesday afternoon in San Jose. Her opening question should be, what emergency?

Is LIV ‘the future of golf’ — or just golf with a soundtrack?

Gooch and company will have to convince the judge that they didn’t know full well two months ago that suspension was the penalty for betraying fellow PGA Tour players and entering Saudi events that conflict with the business of the tour. They’ll have to convince her that their case has “merits.” They’ll have to persuasively show that they will be injured if they can’t play — and that their injuries would be greater than the injury inflicted on the PGA Tour members who remained loyal and now have to put up with these deceitful jokers trying to cut back in the line.

The judge should toss the demand where it belongs: into one of Trump’s overstuffed toilets. And the antitrust suit should be flushed down the same dark pipe.

“Despite knowing full well that they would breach Tour Regulations and be suspended for doing so, Plaintiffs have joined competing golf league … which has paid them tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed money supplied by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund to procure their breaches,” the PGA Tour’s opposing motion read. “… Plaintiffs now run into Court seeking a mandatory injunction to force their way into the Tour’s season-ending [FedEx Cup] Playoffs, an action that would harm all Tour members that follow the rules.”

Since when are contract-breakers deserving of legal relief from the very people they sold out? No wonder loyal veterans are beginning to show disgust for the defectors. Joel Dahmen tweeted: “It sounds like some people want their cake and to eat it [too]. Please stay away in your fantasy land. Sincerely, most tour players.”