US government takes action amid spat between PGA and LIV Golf

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·Sports Reporter
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LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman (pictured) in front of a sign.
The US government is reportedly investigating the PGA Tour over 'anti-competitive' behaviour towards the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, according to the Wall Street Journal. (Getty Images)

The US government is reportedly investigating the PGA Tour over 'anti-competitive' behaviour regarding the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The report comes three days before the start of the year's final major tournament, the British Open at St. Andrews, where LIV Golf players will be allowed to compete for the Claret Jug.

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The Justice Department refused to comment on the report but Golf Channel and Golf Digest reported the PGA Tour had confirmed the investigation.

LIV Golf offered players the richest purse in the sport's history with $25 million in 54-hole events instead of the usual 72.

The biggest names that have defected to LIV Golf include Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed.

Following a number of players' move to the Saudi-golf league, the PGA Tour moved to ban LIV members two participated in the first two events from playing in their tournaments.

Since this move, player agents have received inquiries from Justice Department anti-trust investigators regarding US PGA Tour bylaws governing player participation in other golf events and about the PGA's recent actions regarding LIV Golf, the Journal reported.

"This was not unexpected," a US PGA Tour spokesman said.

"We went through this in 1994 and we are confident of a similar outcome."

US PGA Tour anti-trust moves were investigated in 1994 when Australian star Greg Norman tried to start a rival tour, but the probe ended in 1995 with no action taken against the PGA Tour.

Golf players divided over PGA-LIV feud

The bitter split caused within golf by LIV Golf was underlined last week when Billy Horschel called some players who have joined the Saudi-backed breakaway series hypocrites and liars.

The American was joined by World No.2 Rory McIlroy - who has been a huge advocate for the PGA Tour - in calling on LIV Golf players to stay away from the established tours.

Norman has overseen the first two events of the LIV Golf tournaments, but most recently was not invited to the celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the British Open.

Norman won the British Open twice, which could see him return to play at the Celebration of Champions.

However, the R&A informed Norman they didn't want any unwelcome distractions and did not invite the Australian to the event.

Majed Al Sorour (pictured left), CEO of Saudi Golf Federation, and Greg Norman (pictured right), CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, clap during a trophy presentation.
Majed Al Sorour (pictured left), CEO of Saudi Golf Federation, and Greg Norman (pictured right), CEO and commissioner of LIV Golf, at an LIV Golf event. (Photo by Jamie Squire/LIV Golf via Getty Images)

Norman has called the PGA Tour a "monopoly" and sees the players as independent contractors, so a legal fight could be coming over the bans and release system, the tour saying it has the right to discipline members who violate its rules.

One of the biggest names to join LIV was DeChambeau.

And the American recently hinted that he was guaranteed a huge sum of money for his move, upwards of $125 million.

Asked on the "Country Club Adjacent" podcast about his "$125 million smile," he replied "that's a little low."

"I'm not gonna say the details - I mean for what's reported it's somewhat close," DeChambeau said.

"It's a four-and-a-half-year deal, I can definitely tell you that and a lot of it was upfront, which is great."

with Agencies

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