DOJ probes PGA Tour over possible anticompetitive behavior
(The Hill) – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched an investigation into the PGA Tour over allegations of anticompetitive behavior.
A source told the Wall Street Journal on Monday that players’ agents have received inquiries from the department’s antitrust division about the tour’s bylaws and the PGA’s actions as many players leave for the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour.
According to the tour bylaws, players aren’t allowed to participate in other televised golfing events unless they get permission from the organization’s commissioner.
The PGA has banned and fined players who have joined the Saudi tour, which is paying them far more per tournament but has proven controversial due to the country’s record of rights abuses.
A PGA spokesperson confirmed the DOJ’s investigation in an email to The Hill, saying, “This was not unexpected. We went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome.”
In 1994, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated the league over two of its rules involving players competing in different tournaments, the Journal noted. The FTC ended its investigation into the league a year later.
The PGA Tour, founded in 1929, has suspended a list of prominent golfers such as Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Dustin Johnson for their decision to jump ship to the up-start LIV league.
Some PGA golfers initially filed a release request to participate in the inaugural LIV Golf tournament, which took place last month, but were denied by the organization.
The Saudi-backed league has accused the PGA Tour of “monopolistic behavior” toward golfers, writing in a letter that the federal government will have to get involved to investigate the tour’s “unlawful practices,” the Journal reported.
The Hill has reached out to the Department of Justice and LIV Golf for comment.