Mickelson, 10 others sue PGA Tour

Ale Xander

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Without getting into the details, the idea that the Tour may have been improperly stifling the competition from LIV could have some merit.

But this, I just can't:



[guy looking around warily emoji]

Phil Mickleson may be less lovable than anyone else I can think of. I'd put him down there with Ted Cruz. Does anyone really love Phil Mickelson? Like, snuggles and cuddles?
Anyone know what morning consult is?

They have him in a virtual tie with Tiger in terms of favorability (not same as beloved, but in the ballpark).
https://morningconsult.com/2021/09/23/pga-tour-golfers-popularity-poll/
 

Zomp

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Ocst, a lot of independent contractors can’t just work for the competition at the same time they work for another company right? Why is this different?
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Anyone know what morning consult is?

They have him in a virtual tie with Tiger in terms of favorability (not same as beloved, but in the ballpark).
https://morningconsult.com/2021/09/23/pga-tour-golfers-popularity-poll/
Yes, they are a reputable survey research / polling company. Ultimately, Mickelson is probably one of the top two or three known active golfers in the world. I suspect most people who know who he is don’t have much of an option on him either way.
 

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Michelson has always sort of been like David Simms. He has done a great job of marketing a persona in front of the camera that, by many, many reports, wasn’t the real Phil. As a result, I do think he’s been incredibly popular for a long time, although I wouldn’t use the term beloved. His style of play has always added to his popularity.
 

cshea

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So these guys want to play 14 LIV events, 4 majors, an undefined number of Asian Tour events, PLUS the PGA Tour!?! But I was told the point was less golf!

(I know that’s not the point)
 

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jercra

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Ocst, a lot of independent contractors can’t just work for the competition at the same time they work for another company right? Why is this different?
They didn't/don't work for "another" company. They work(ed) for their own company.
 

SumnerH

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Yes, they are a reputable survey research / polling company. Ultimately, Mickelson is probably one of the top two or three known active golfers in the world. I suspect most people who know who he is don’t have much of an option on him either way.
As someone who doesn't follow much golf, my 2 impressions of Phil are that (a) he was known as a choker who often finished 2nd for a good while, and has since essentially eliminated that perception; and (b) he's pretty well-hated for his ego, and is nicknamed FIGJAM (fuck I'm good, just ask me) on tour.
 

OCST

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Ocst, a lot of independent contractors can’t just work for the competition at the same time they work for another company right? Why is this different?
Yeah, this can be a tough nut to crack. I think the players would have to be considered independent contractors, so that makes the tour... what, exactly? The tournaments are owned and sponsored by the golf clubs individually, I would think, so the tour is, I would assume, a corporation or partnership that provides marketing, rules standardization and enforcement, and other support to the clubs and players. So the players aren't employees, per se, and could concievably shop their services...

But, I don't see any issue with the tour contracting with individual players that they can't play on a competing tour. The anti competitive behavior would arise from the tour using improper or wrongful means to compete with LIV, which might well be things like:

The lawsuit alleges that the PGA Tour not only has threatened golfers who sought to play in LIV tournaments, it also “threatened sponsors, vendors, and agents to coerce players to abandon opportunities to play in LIV Golf events”; “orchestrated a per se unlawful group boycott with the European Tour to deny LIV Golf access to their members”; and “leaned on” groups that put on golf’s four major championships, pressuring them into banning LIV golfers from competing in the sport’s most high-profile events.
I would think that PGA, or LIV, or any similar thing, would be on firm ground in saying "if you sign with us, you can't play in that other tour's events." I think UFC and other competitions like that work similarly.

The antitrust behavior would come in with the PGA brass getting on the phone with the corporate sponsors, or networks, or a club like Augusta, or the European Tour, and saying "if you let any of those LIV guys play you're not getting our players/money/whatever."

But without reading the statutes, cases, etc. that's just me trying to put it in the fairway, as it were.
 

cshea

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I've said it before, i'll say it again...he's the dumbest smart guy around.

To he honest, I haven't missed him or anyone on LIV as much as I thought I would. I don't like him but thought he was good for the Tour from a content and villain perspective. Haven't given him second thought since he left. Good riddance.

As for the lawsuit, I am an idiot and certainly have no understaning of anti-trust law, but I don't see how the LIV suit has merit. They are employees of LIV, well compensated ones at that. What exactly is the grievance here? LIV is off and running and appears to be successful at this point, so it seems like there are 2 options for pro golf employment, so how is that a monopoly?
 

wonderland

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I've said it before, i'll say it again...he's the dumbest smart guy around.

To he honest, I haven't missed him or anyone on LIV as much as I thought I would. I don't like him but thought he was good for the Tour from a content and villain perspective. Haven't given him second thought since he left. Good riddance.
since winning the US Open in Sept 2020, he’s pretty much been a non-factor. Between missing time and playing mediocre golf, he’s been out of sight, out of mind for me.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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Just looked at the complaint quickly. It's interesting to me that Mickelson has his own lawyer, while the other guys are represented by the same firm.

Not sure that's been reported. It could mean a lot of things but I would imagine the most likely reason is that Gibson Dunn sees a potential conflict in representing Phil and representing the others. Maybe to do with the fact that Mickelson has different issues since he got a ban for recruiting players away from the tour.

I wonder if discovery will be allowed into who is actually paying the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees. I'm not an anti-trust lawyer, but I think this kind of case likely will get analyzed at least in part under what's called the "rule of reason." In a rule of reason analysis, an awful lot is relevant, and I would assume that whomever the tour hires will be clever enough to try to make an issue if this is a saudi backed and funded lawsuit.
 

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reggiecleveland

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One time I was in Vegas and decided to bet on a left handed golfer to win the US Open. Luckily I forgot about and did not watch Phil choke away my $650.
 

snowmanny

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They are upset that people are mean to them or don’t want to be around them. So they are suing. It’s like Dershowitz whining that nobody takes him out to dinner anymore on Martha’s Vineyard.

No self-awareness. Just be happy with your money.
 

Koufax

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I don't think that the antitrust complaint is trivial at all. I'm not in that field, but I would not be surprised if the PGA ended up crumbling in the face of that lawsuit (and by that I mean not opposing LIV golfers from playing in PGA events or the Ryder Cup (I know, the USGA controls the Ryder Cup, but they will crumble too), and not objecting to allowing LIV events to factor into world rankings.) The question might arise whether the PGA would then be able to field teams in LIV events, and I expect that eventually they will.
 

mauidano

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Side note; I was at his wedding reception here on Maui.

Didn't really care for him then and even less now.
 

Marciano490

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I don't think that the antitrust complaint is trivial at all. I'm not in that field, but I would not be surprised if the PGA ended up crumbling in the face of that lawsuit (and by that I mean not opposing LIV golfers from playing in PGA events or the Ryder Cup (I know, the USGA controls the Ryder Cup, but they will crumble too), and not objecting to allowing LIV events to factor into world rankings.) The question might arise whether the PGA would then be able to field teams in LIV events, and I expect that eventually they will.
I didn’t think much of the headline, but Gibson Dunn isn’t a fuck around firm. If they took the case and filed the brief, there’s something there.

what was on the menu?
I only know guests were encouraged to eat off other couples’ plates.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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I didn’t think much of the headline, but Gibson Dunn isn’t a fuck around firm. If they took the case and filed the brief, there’s something there.
Not my area either but it's a legit case. I think the plaintiffs have the tougher side but there are some things that they can do to try to build their case.

In the end though, I think the PGA is going to be able to make a very compelling argument. There is no market for an individual golfer. If you're great at golf and want to put on an exhibition, you're basically a glorified circus act and you'd have trouble selling tickets to have people watch you play or do tricks for $5. Your value comes in when you and others combine and compete. The tour created that value and now they are trying to freeride. Even for exhibitions like the four golfer Thanksgiving games are based on the achievements that the players have generated in a competition format largely created by the tour.

There is no market for "golf player" without the structure that makes golf playing into entertainment, and I think when you define the market correctly the PGA's free riding argument really takes off, which is why I think they used the term "free ride" a couple of times to members today. You free ride, now you are falsely defining the relevant market, take a boatload of money from an entity that purports to be a competitor but really isn't because they are state funded and they are a money losing enterprise that, accordingly, lacks the ordinary incentives to compete, and now you want to come back?

I don't know antitrust law, but I know which side of that case I want.
 

TheGazelle

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I didn’t think much of the headline, but Gibson Dunn isn’t a fuck around firm. If they took the case and filed the brief, there’s something there.
Yeah, Gibson Dunn and Quinn Emanuel are both listed as representing the non-Phil guys. Phil is represented by Baker McKenzie. None of those firms are fuck around firms, so it's definitely legit. I have almost no antitrust experience, but what DDB says above rings true to me.
 

Average Reds

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Yeah, Gibson Dunn and Quinn Emanuel are both listed as representing the non-Phil guys. Phil is represented by Baker McKenzie. None of those firms are fuck around firms, so it's definitely legit. I have almost no antitrust experience, but what DDB says above rings true to me.
None of those firms are “fuck around firms,” but neither are they above taking cases with plaintiffs who might not have the best case but are backed by unlimited resources.

The worst outcome I could see for the PGA Tour is that they might have to allow the players who had already qualified for the playoffs and Ryder Cup to participate. But I can’t see the PGA Tour “crumbling.”
 

cshea

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The Cup stuff is probably going to tie into whatever happens with OWGR. Essentially, in some form, players earn standings points through money earned on qualifying tours. LIV isn't one of those. Players are also supposed to be members of these respective tours. It's a little murky with the LIV guys. Some have resigned from the Tour(s) others haven't. The legal battle between the suspended players and the Tour will probably settle their fate in terms of the Cup. If DJ, Brooks, Bryson dominate and gobble up the 4 majors next year, then...I don't know what would happen. DL3, captain of the upcoming Presidents Cup team, has basically said that they (him and the remaining players) do not want LIV guys on the team.

The upcoming Presidents Cup should be interesting on the International side. The qualification is done exclusively through OWGR. Ancer and Oosthuizen have been removed from the standings but are 4th and 5th on the International team through OWGR. This would seem to be similar to the LIV guys with major exemptions. The exemptions were earned, they should be honored. I'm just not sure what will happen.

Tensions seem very high right now. The public statements by the PGA Tour membership has been that they are respectful of the LIV players decision to join, but just go and do not come back. Now that some are trying to come back, tensions have jumped and escalating quickly.
 
Wouldn't it have been much more to the LIV guys' benefit to wait to file suit until after they had actually suffered tangible harm that might be more realistically construed as anti-trust behavior? All that's happened so far is that they've been barred from competing in a rival league. If that rival league then colluded in keeping them out of the majors (e.g., by persuading the OWGR to exclude LIV tournaments in perpetuity going forward), or the majors themselves had sided with the PGA Tour against LIV - etc. - that would seem like a more compelling case to me.
 

ehaz

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Just looked at the complaint quickly. It's interesting to me that Mickelson has his own lawyer, while the other guys are represented by the same firm.

Not sure that's been reported. It could mean a lot of things but I would imagine the most likely reason is that Gibson Dunn sees a potential conflict in representing Phil and representing the others. Maybe to do with the fact that Mickelson has different issues since he got a ban for recruiting players away from the tour.

I wonder if discovery will be allowed into who is actually paying the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees. I'm not an anti-trust lawyer, but I think this kind of case likely will get analyzed at least in part under what's called the "rule of reason." In a rule of reason analysis, an awful lot is relevant, and I would assume that whomever the tour hires will be clever enough to try to make an issue if this is a saudi backed and funded lawsuit.
I haven't had a chance to read the complaint but the article mentioned plaintiffs are alleging an illegal group boycott (which is per se illegal).

Basically, you can't have an actionable "boycott" under the antitrust laws unless there is an agreement among horizontal competitors to boycott. So, for example, getting venues or corporate sponsors etc. to agree to deal exclusively with PGA isn't a group boycott. Those kinds of agreements could still otherwise be illegal (e.g., for foreclosure, etc.) and that's what would be analyzed under the rule of reason.

What could really get PGA into trouble are what facts plaintiffs alleged re - agreements with the EU Tour, other horizontal competitors, etc.
 

TheGazelle

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None of those firms are “fuck around firms,” but neither are they above taking cases with plaintiffs who might not have the best case but are backed by unlimited resources.

The worst outcome I could see for the PGA Tour is that they might have to allow the players who had already qualified for the playoffs and Ryder Cup to participate. But I can’t see the PGA Tour “crumbling.”
We're saying the same thing. My point is that this is not some patently meritless lawsuit, even if it is weak.
 

Zomp

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Everyone should listen to the newest Firepit Collective podcast with Davis Love III. He does not hold back and sounds genuinely hurt with the liv guys.
 

cshea

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There's a court hearing coming up at 4:00pm, a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order.

If / when LIV guys get the TRO granted, they'll be eligible for PGA Tour events while the case makes it's way through the legal system. So, Ancer and Gooch could be in the field this week at the St. Jude, which the PGA Tour players have threatened to boycott if LIV guys are allowed to play.
 

joe dokes

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There's a court hearing coming up at 4:00pm, a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order.

If / when LIV guys get the TRO granted, they'll be eligible for PGA Tour events while the case makes it's way through the legal system. So, Ancer and Gooch could be in the field this week at the St. Jude, which the PGA Tour players have threatened to boycott if LIV guys are allowed to play.
It's going to be hard for the LIV guys to offer proof of "irreparable harm" (the most important prerequisite for a TRO) if they are not allowed to play in the St. Jude's, when they are playing in tournaments paying them more money than they could make on the PGA Tour. And where money on the PGA tour depends on, at a minimum, making the cut, their claims of financial loss are closer to speculation than evidence.
 

cshea

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Apparently Gooch and Swafford were literally sitting in a car outside the gates of the St. Jude awaiting the ruling. Ooops. Gooch seems like the biggest dummy out there, if reports are to be believed. He supposedly only wanted to play the London LIV event because it fit his schedule and he didn't believe the Tour would actually suspend him. Now his career is isolated to LIV. 42nd in the world, virtually no path towards playing in majors. Probably off to Asia for a bit to try and earn ranking points. FWIW, the last Asian Tour even strength of field was lower than the KFT, so even winning a bunch of those isn't going to help a ton. Maybe he just shrugs and looks at his bank account.

This is a long way from over, but I kinda wonder if there's any backlash from the LIV plyers towards Norman. In the complaint, there was evidence (texts between him and Sergio) where Normal said the Tour couldn't suspend them for "one day let alone life." I would assume he gave this reasurrance to most everyone who jumped.
 

joe dokes

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This is a long way from over, but I kinda wonder if there's any backlash from the LIV plyers towards Norman. In the complaint, there was evidence (texts between him and Sergio) where Normal said the Tour couldn't suspend them for "one day let alone life." I would assume he gave this reasurrance to most everyone who jumped.
Has it been reported anywhere what Norman has received for being LIV's tip of the spear?
 

TFP

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This is a long way from over, but I kinda wonder if there's any backlash from the LIV plyers towards Norman.
I'm not gonna lie, it would pretty hilarious for Norman to get the boot, the Tour and LIV settle and broker a peace where they can co-exist, and Norman is stuck on the outside looking in...again.