A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that three suspended PGA Tour players who left for LIV Golf will not be allowed to participate in the FedExCup Playoffs, which begin Thursday in Memphis, Tennessee.
In a two-hour hearing in San Jose, California, to consider the players’ motion for a temporary restraining order, Judge Beth Labson Freeman determined that Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford knew the potential consequences of joining the rival LIV circuit and should not be granted emergency injunctive relief to play in the Tour’s lucrative postseason.
The judge said that the three players have already been well-compensated for playing LIV Golf, which has lured players with significant signing bonuses and $25 million tournament purses, and that their attorneys on Tuesday failed to establish irreparable harm.
The ruling means that the Gooch (No. 20), Jones (No. 65) and Swafford (No. 67) will not advance their position in the FedExCup Playoffs, potentially endangering their major-championship prospects for next year. Players who reach the 30-man Tour Championship qualify for three of the four majors in 2023.
The field for the FedEx St. Jude Championship now stands at 121 players.
The decision is a significant legal victory for the PGA Tour, whose chase for the $75 million FedExCup was threatened to be overshadowed by the presence of the three suspended members at TPC Southwind. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler said Tuesday in Memphis that he was “definitely frustrated” that his peers were suing the Tour.
The three players’ motion was separate from the broader antitrust lawsuit that was filed Aug. 3 by 10 players – including Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau – who claimed they were unfairly suspended and that the Tour has used monopoly power to crush its opposition. The Tour has argued that it is a member organization that has rules and regulations that players choose to accept.
Judge Freeman said the trial could start as early as August of 2023. If the legal teams can't be prepared by then, the start could be delayed until 2025.