Leaders of arguably the most prestigious tournament in golf are being accused of attempting to persuade golfers to not join the upstart LIV tour.
These accusations against officials at The Masters and Augusta National Golf Club are part of a greater antitrust lawsuit filed by 11 players at LIV golf against the PGA Tour.
‘Augusta National, the promoter of The Masters, has taken multiple actions to indicate its alignment with the PGA Tour, thus seeding doubt among top professional golfers whether they would be banned from future Masters Tournaments,’ reads the lawsuit.
‘As an initial matter, the links between the PGA Tour and Augusta National run deep. The actions by Augusta National indicate that the PGA Tour has used these channels to pressure Augusta National to do its bidding.
‘For example, in February, 2022 Augusta National representatives threatened to disinvite players from The Masters if they joined LIV Golf.’
Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley told golfers to reject LIV, per a lawsuit
The Masters could take the move to be the first major tournament to ban LIV golfers from play
The suit adds that Augusta National officials were absent from the meeting, but told players the PGA Tour and leaders of The Masters agreed to work together to address LIV.
Additionally, the filing says club and tournament chairman Fred Ridley personally told multiple players at this year’s Masters to not participate in LIV Golf events, and that Ridley declined a meeting with LIV CEO Greg Norman.
Neither The Masters or Augusta National Golf Club have publicly commented on the accusations in the lawsuit.
Past U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is part of a suit against the PGA Tour
Six-time major winner Phil Mickelson is one of eleven LIV Golf players suing the PGA Tour
Golfers from the LIV tour are confident that a positive result will come their way, either in or out of a courtroom.
‘I personally know that it will get figured out, whether it’s legally or whether they come to the table and work out terms,’ major winner Bryson DeChambeau told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson earlier this week.
‘I definitely think it will wash itself out in the future, pretty shortly.’
The Masters could make the move to ban LIV golfers from its upcoming tournament in April, becoming the first of the four golf majors to do so.
Both the U.S. Open and British Open allowed LIV golfers to compete in their tournaments in June and July respectively.
If Augusta chose to make that move, it’s unclear if that would lead to the ban six of its last 12 champions.
That number currently sits at five, with Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, and Phil Mickelson having already teed up for the Saudi-backed tour.
It will jump up to six when two-time green jacket winner Bubba Watson becomes an off-course captain for LIV’s next event taking place roughly 30 miles outside of Boston at the end of the month.
Winners of The Masters earn a lifetime exemption to enter the tournament.
When asked in April if Mickelson’s absence from the 2022 Masters was due to him joining LIV, Ridley replied, ‘I would like to say we did not disinvite Phil.
‘Phil has been a real fixture here at the Masters for many, many years. He’s been a big part of our history. We certainly wish him the best working through the issues he’s dealing with right now.’
Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is set to join LIV Golf later this year