PGA Tour vs. LIV clash continues over reported meeting at 2022 The Match
A simple schedule hearing heated up Friday as attorneys for the PGA Tour and LIV Golf clashed over an already complex and contentious discovery process.
U.S. District Court Judge Beth L. Freeman agreed to adjust the schedule for the antitrust lawsuit that was filed in August by a group of players against the Tour, but not before attorneys for both sides sparred over a reported meeting that took place last week at The Match in Florida.
Rachel Brass, a member of the legal team representing LIV Golf and the remaining three players in the lawsuit, argued that “this case is still about players who are being excluded from the opportunity to play golf” and referenced a reported meeting last week that including representatives from the Tour, R&A, USGA and PGA of America that convened to “respond to LIV.”
Elliot Peters, a member of the Tour’s legal team, denied there was any meeting during The Match – a made-for-television event that included Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth – and called the claim “shameless.”
“The meeting last week — they are relying on a press story they planted in the press … it is complete fiction,” Peters said.
Judge Freeman agreed to slight adjustments to the case schedule, including moving the deadlines back for written discovery, witness depositions, summary judgement and the pre-trial conference, but she did not change the trial date, which is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2024.
“I could move trial to April of ’24. It’s not something I want to do,” Freeman said.
Freeman originally offered both sides in the dispute an expedited schedule, but Peters warned that the current disputes over discovery, which include a separate hearing that involves the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, could make the schedule difficult.
“I have my doubts [on the trial date], but let’s talk about that another day,” Peters said. “We didn’t ask to move the trial date … It may be unrealistic to get this done [in time for a January 2024 trial].”
Attorneys for LIV Golf and the players also agreed to change the name of litigation. Originally called Mickelson et al vs. PGA Tour, the current lawsuit features just three of the original 11 players who sued the Tour following their suspensions for playing LIV Golf events and violating the circuit’s policies on conflicting events and media rights. The new name of the lawsuit is Jones et al vs. PGA Tour after Matt Jones — one of the three remaining plaintiffs along with LIV Golf.