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LIV trio ‘failed to show they have been harmed’, says ruling judge

Three LIV players seeking to play in the FedEx Cup play-offs failed to show ‘that they have been harmed – let alone irreparably’, the ruling judge has said (Kieran Cleeves/PA)
Three LIV players seeking to play in the FedEx Cup play-offs failed to show ‘that they have been harmed – let alone irreparably’, the ruling judge has said (Kieran Cleeves/PA)

Three LIV players seeking to play in the FedEx Cup play-offs failed to show “they have been harmed – let alone irreparably”, the ruling judge has said.

Judge Beth Labson Freeman on Tuesday said Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones were “well aware of the consequences” of their actions in competing in LIV events without permission and had not “made their case” against being suspended by the PGA Tour as a result.

The decision meant the trio were not added to the field for the FedEx St Jude Championship, the first of three play-off events which began at TPC Southwind in Memphis on Thursday, the same day the judge’s written ruling was released.

“Based on this evidence, Plaintiffs have not even shown that they have been harmed — let alone irreparably,” Freeman wrote.

“It is clear that the LIV Golf contracts negotiated by the Plaintiffs and consummated between the parties were based on the players’ calculation of what they would be leaving behind and the amount of money they would need to compensate for those losses.

“Plaintiffs have signed contracts that richly reward them for their talent and compensate for lost opportunity through TOUR play. In fact, the evidence shows almost without a doubt that they will be earning significantly more money with LIV Golf than they could reasonably have expected to make through TOUR play over the same time period.”

Judge Freeman disagreed with the LIV players’ legal argument that not appearing in the play-offs would cause them to suffer financial and reputational losses.

She wrote: “Plaintiffs’ contention that they will irreparably lose future sponsorship opportunities and career status is undermined by Plaintiffs’ evidence that LIV Golf offers a refreshing new ‘extremely fan-friendly’ business model that will lead to ‘an improved broadcast output and entertainment experience’ compared to the staid old golf world built by PGA TOUR.

“If LIV Golf is elite golf’s future, what do Plaintiffs care about the dust-collecting trophies of a bygone era?”

It comes after Rory McIlroy welcomed the judge’s “common sense” decision to rule against the trio.

Speaking at a pre-tournament press conference, McIlroy said: “From my vantage point common sense prevailed and I thought it was the right decision.

“It just lets us focus on the important stuff, which is the golf. We can all move forward and not have that sideshow going on for the next few weeks, which is nice.”