Phil Mickelson Drops Out of LIV Golf Lawsuit Against PGA Tour

by Nick Geddes
(Photo by Chris Trotman/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson is among four golfers asking to be dismissed as plaintiffs in LIV Golf‘s federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.

Per ESPN, Mickelson is joined by Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter and Hudson Swafford in dismissing themselves from the case. LIV Golf accuses the PGA Tour of suspending players illegally for playing in the Saudi Arabia-backed events.

Mickelson previously told reporters two weeks ago at LIV Golf’s event in Chicago that he was considering leaving the lawsuit.

“I am focused on moving forward and am extremely happy being a part of LIV, while also grateful for my time on the Tour,” Mickelson said in a statement on Tuesday. “I am pleased that the players on Tour are finally being heard, respected, and valued and are benefitting from the changes recently implemented. With LIV’s involvement in these issues, the players’ rights will be protected, and I no longer feel it is necessary for me to be part of the proceedings.”

LIV Golf is down to three plaintiffs in its case: Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein. Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez and Jason Kokrak recently backed out of the lawsuit. Nothing, however, has changed for LIV Golf and its stance.

“Nothing has changed,” LIV Golf spokesman Jonathan Grella said in a statement Tuesday morning. “The merits of the case — the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive conduct — still stand and will be fully tested in court. And we look forward to that. LIV stands with the players whom the PGA Tour has treated so poorly, but we also recognize that to be successful, we no longer need a wide array of players to be on the suit. We have our players’ backs and will press our case against the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive behavior.”

LIV Golf, PGA Tour Unlikely to Work Together

Ahead of LIV Golf’s fifth event in Chicago, CEO Greg Norman revealed that he tried to have conversations in the past with PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan in figuring out a way for both leagues to coexist. There will be no more efforts to have a sit-down with Monahan, Norman said.

“We have no interest in sitting down with them, to be honest with you, because our product is working,” Norman told The Australian in an interview this week, via ESPN.

ESPN reported that Norman’s attempts to communicate with Monahan included a Feb. 24 letter and voicemail before LIV Golf announced its 2022 schedule. Norman accused Monahan of going too far in his punishments for PGA Tour players who defect to LIV Golf. Monahan has suspended players who have competed in LIV Golf events without conflicting-event releases.

“Simply put, you can’t ban players from playing golf,” Norman wrote in the letter. “Players have the right and the freedom to play where we like. I know for a fact that many PGA players were and still are interested in playing for a new league, in addition to playing for the Tour.

“… What is wrong with allowing players to make their own decisions about where to play and how often to play? What is so wrong with player choice? Why do you feel so threatened that you would resort to such a desperate, unwise, and unenforceable threat?”

Phil Mickelson Says LIV Golf ‘Here to Stay’

Mickelson, meanwhile, would invite a scenario where both leagues work together.

“The PGA Tour, for the last 20 or 30 years, have had all the best players in the world. That will never be the case again. LIV Golf is here to stay,” Mickelson told reporters Sept. 17. “The best solution is for us to come together. I think that the world of professional golf has a need for the old historical ‘history of the game’ product that the PGA Tour provides.

“I think that LIV provides a really cool, updated feel that is attracting a lot of younger crowds. Both are good for the game of golf and the inclusion of LIV Golf in the ecosystem of the golf world is necessary. As soon as that happens, we all start working together. It’s going to be a really positive thing for everyone.”