PGA Tour files countersuit against LIV Golf as legal battle escalates

Patrick Reed drops $750 million defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel and files bigger one with more defendants

The PGA Tour has filed a countersuit against the LIV Golf Series, claiming the renegade circuit interfered with contracts the Tour had with its players.

The Tour filed its countersuit Wednesday. It is a response to LIV’s federal antitrust lawsuit filed in August, claiming the PGA Tour illegally suspended players for choosing to play LIV events.

In its countersuit, the PGA Tour claims that LIV Golf offered “astronomical sums of money to induce them to breach their contracts with the Tour in an effort to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities and to further the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s Vision 2030 initiatives.”

“Indeed, a key component of LIV's strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events like The Players Championship and the FedEx Cup Playoffs, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform,” the PGA Tour complaint reads.


“LIV has openly sought to damage the Tour's business relationships with its members by inducing them to breach their contractual requirements, even going so far as to pay members' legal fees to make breaching their contracts with Tour more enticing.”

The LIV Golf plaintiffs now include Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones, Peter Uihlein and LIV Golf itself. Phil Mickelson and three others are the latest to ask for removal as plaintiffs from the lawsuit.

LIV Golf released a statement Thursday in reaction to the countersuit.

“The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anticompetitive conduct, which LIV and the players detail in their 104-page complaint,” LIV Golf said. “We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs.”

Defamation lawsuit

Meanwhile, Patrick Reed has dropped his $750 million (€766 million) defamation lawsuit against the Golf Channel and Brandel Chamblee in Texas only to refile a bigger one — with more defendants — in a Florida federal court.

Reed attorney Larry Klayman refiled the suit on Wednesday in US District Court for the Middle District of Florida in Jacksonville. Added to the list of defendants are Golf Channel employees Damon Hack, Shane Bacon and Eamon Lynch, and Golf Channel parent companies Golfweek and Gannett.

The original claim, filed in August, alleged that Chamblee and Golf Channel conspired with the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan to defame Reed “since he was 23 years old” — nine years ago.

Reed’s allegations include “misreporting information with falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth, that is with actual and constitutional malice, purposely omitting pertinent key material facts to mislead the public, and actively targeting [Reed] to destroy his reputation, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him.”

Much of the same language is used in the new filing. The $750 million sought is for actual and compensatory damages; Reed claims he lost multimillion-dollar sponsorships as a result of being defamed by Chamblee et al.

The new suit states that the defamation was “intentionally published and perpetrated by the Defendants in the state of Florida, where the offending acts were accessed, read, opened, and viewed by numerous third-party Florida residents and citizens.”

In January 2020, Reed’s lawyer sent Chamblee a cease-and-desist letter demanding he not repeat accusations that Reed cheated during a tournament. Reed was penalised two strokes at the Hero World Challenge in 2019 for improving his lie in a bunker, but he claimed he didn’t intend to do so.

Chamblee continued to take Reed to task over the years, not only for cheating allegations but also for his decision to defect from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf earlier this year.