An antitrust complaint filed by Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine other LIV Golf members against the tour revealed that Mickelson had been disciplined for, among other things, trying to recruit members to the Saudi-backed tour. saudi. Following his controversial comments about Saudi Arabia and the tour, Mickelson said he was taking personal time off from playing during this time.
“Despite my belief that some changes have already been made to the overall discourse, I know I have to be accountable,” Mickelson said in February. “For the past 31 years I have lived a very public life and strived to live up to my own expectations, to be the role model the fans deserve and to be someone who inspires others. ‘ve worked to compete at the highest level, be available to the media, represent my sponsors with integrity, engage with volunteers and sign every autograph for my amazing fans. I’ve had many successful and rewarding moments that I will cherish always, but I have often failed myself and others as well. Over the past 10 years, I have felt pressure and stress slowly affect me on a deeper level. I know that I have not been at my best and i desperately need time to prioritize those i love the most and work to be the man i want to be.
According to the lawsuit, this sabbatical was extended by the PGA Tour.
“On March 22, 2022, the Commissioner suspended Claimant Mickelson (with the option of seeking reinstatement in May 2022) for, among other alleged reasons, ‘attempting to recruit players to join [LIV Golf]”,’ the complaint reads. “Following an appeal, the Appeals Committee (a three-person committee made up of members of the Circuits Policy Council) upheld the commissioner’s two-month suspension. On June 20, 2022, Mr. Mickelson requested reinstatement of the two-month suspension. The Tour denied his claim, saying claimant Mickelson had breached Tour regulations by participating in the LIV Golf London Invitational. In addition to denying his request for reinstatement, the Tour extended plaintiff Mickelson’s suspension, barring him from seeking reinstatement to play professional golf with the Tour until March 31, 2023.”
The complaint says the tour then extended the suspension of Mickelson’s participation in the LIV Golf Portland event, “delaying even the mere possibility of seeking reinstatement until March 31, 2024.”
“Mr. Mickelson’s two-year unlawful suspension from the PGA Tour has caused him irreparable professional harm, as well as financial and business harm,” the complaint continues. “The unlawful suspensions from the Tour deprive Mr. Mickelson of the right that he has earned to participate in Tour events, to earn compensation by playing on the Tour, and to have the opportunities that come with such play. The suspension of the Tour deprived Mr. Mickelson of the right to the platform and to the public exposure provided by playing on the Tour.
“He retired of his own free will and he asked for time,” Monahan said. “We gave him that time. We do not comment on disciplinary issues, potential issues or actual issues. But each player is responsible for his actions here.
The PGA Tour, like any other employer or organization, has the discretion to issue rules of conduct for its members, employees and independent contractors. One of the provisions of the PGA Tour Player Handbook and Tournament Regulations is that each PGA Tour Member acknowledges that the Commissioner, Tour Board and Appeals Committee have the authority to permanently bar a Member from perform on a co-sponsored, approved or coordinated tour. tournaments if the member violates its rules.
The handbook also provides that a player ceases to be a member of the PGA Tour if, in the opinion of the board of directors, the member commits a serious breach of tournament rules, the PGA Tour code of ethics or otherwise behaves otherwise in a way unbecoming of a professional golfer. Lawyers previously told Golf Digest — regarding the tournament handbook and rules — that the PGA Tour likely has the discretion to decide that joining a competing tour is a serious violation of its rules.
In addition to skipping the Players Championship, Mickelson also missed the Masters and the PGA Championship, the latter in which he was the defending champion. His first appearance after his sabbatical was at the inaugural LIV Golf event in London, and he played at the US Open the following week, where he missed the cut.
When asked for comment, a PGA Tour spokesperson referenced a memo sent by Jay Monahan. Although Mickelson’s suspension is not specifically cited, Monahan called the lawsuit “an attempt to use the touring platform to promote yourself and get your benefits and efforts for free.”
“Let me be clear,” Monahan wrote. “We will continue to defend members who follow the rules written by and for the players.”