A U.S. District Court judge in South Florida ruled in favor of the PGA Tour’s request for summary judgement and dismissed a lawsuit filed against the circuit by Hank Haney.
The suit was filed in December 2019 and claimed that the “Tour has long attempted to disrupt and interfere in Haney’s business,” after the radio host’s show was canceled on Sirius XM Radio.
The cancellation was in reaction to comments Haney made during his show in May 2019 regarding the upcoming U.S. Women’s Open when he was asked his pick to win the championship.
“I’m gonna predict a Korean,” Haney said and later added, “I couldn’t name you six players on the LPGA Tour. Maybe. I could. Well … I’d go with Lee. If I didn’t have to name a first name, I’d get a bunch of them right.”
Haney was initially suspended for his comments before his show was canceled.
According to Thursday’s ruling by judge Rodolfo Ruiz, “The PGA Tour seeks summary judgment on the basis that [Haney] lacks any evidence to support [his] claims that it tortiously interfered with [Haney’s] contractual and business relationships with SiriusXM.”
"We’re pleased the judge agreed with our stance, that our actions regarding this unfortunate incident two years ago were entirely justified," the PGA Tour said in a statement. "The PGA Tour will always fight to protect our values and the inclusivity and growth of the game."
During discovery it was revealed that Tour commissioner Jay Monahan responded to Haney’s comments in an internal e-mail on May 30, 2019. “This man needs to lose his job. Please let me know what I can do to assist you to ensure this happens,” Monahan wrote to a member of the circuit’s communications team.
The same day Monahan spoke with Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s president and chief content officer, and the commissioner advised Greenstein that Haney’s comments were “completely unacceptable” and “indefensible.” According to testimony from Greenstein, he didn’t believe “Monahan had threatened the relationship between the PGA Tour and SiriusXM.”
“Rule 9 of the USGA Rules of Golf states a key principle of the game: ‘play the ball as it lies,’” Ruiz wrote in his 29-page judgement. “In other words, absent a few exceptions, players cannot improve their position by simply moving the golf ball. Here, the court must similarly take the evidence as it lies in the record. And that evidence makes clear that [Haney] [is] unable to establish the necessary elements of [his] claims.”
Neither Riley Cirulnick, Haney’s lead attorney, nor Haney’s manager, Jeremy Aisenberg, could be reached for comment.