The PGA Tour has requested to include the Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia and its chief, Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, as defendants in its ongoing legal dispute with LIV Golf. The PGA Tour, which is a professional golf tour in the United States, is alleging that LIV Golf, which is backed by Saudi Arabia, has been recruiting PGA players with large sums of money and encouraging them to breach their contracts. This has caused a widening dispute between the two rival golf tours.
In a filing on Tuesday in federal court in San Jose, California, the PGA Tour stated that PIF and Al-Rumayyan have been involved in recruiting players, participating in contract negotiations, and approving player contracts, all while being aware that these deals would interfere with the players’ PGA Tour contracts. The PGA Tour has requested a May 18 hearing for its request to add defendants, which must be approved by a judge.
The legal dispute between the two rival golf tours began when 11 professional golfers, including Phil Mickelson, Talor Gooch, and Matt Jones, sued the PGA Tour in August for suspending them after they joined LIV. LIV Golf then joined the suit a month later, which prompted Mickelson, Gooch, and six others to withdraw. The PGA Tour then countersued, claiming that LIV Golf’s alleged interference with PGA players’ contracts harmed its brand and reputation. LIV Golf, on the other hand, claims that the PGA Tour is a monopolist that is keen on sabotaging a new rival.
The request to add the additional defendants also comes as the PGA and LIV are deadlocked over records sought by each side ahead of a trial set for January 2024. The PGA Tour has been wrangling with PIF over information the tour wants from the fund and its governor, with a ruling on that fight expected soon. PIF and Al-Rumayyan had claimed that they can’t be forced to turn over documents because they have sovereign immunity. However, by adding them as defendants in the suit, they would no longer be able to claim immunity, the PGA Tour said.
Irrespective of the rulings to come in May and beyond, it’s clear that Saudi money won’t go down without a swing.