PGA Tour makes 'sportswashing' accusation in LIV Golf counterclaim

By Sports Desk September 29, 2022

The PGA Tour has accused the LIV Golf Invitational Series of making "astronomical" offers to players in a bid to "sportswash" Saudi Arabia's global image in a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. 

The controversial LIV series – which counts the likes of Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau among its ranks – launched an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour last month.

LIV accused the PGA of operating as a monopoly and alleged the Tour's decision to issue suspensions to players who joined the breakaway circuit was improper.

Eleven LIV golfers were originally named as plaintiffs in that claim, although eight – including Mickelson – have since withdrawn.

The PGA Tour has now hit back with legal action of its own, alleging: "A key component of LIV's strategy has been to intentionally induce Tour members to breach their Tour agreements and play in LIV events while seeking to maintain their Tour memberships and play in marquee Tour events, so LIV can free ride off the Tour and its platform."

The PGA's counterclaim goes on to accuse LIV of offering players "astronomical sums of money" in an attempt "to use the LIV Players and the game of golf to sportswash the recent history of Saudi atrocities."

In a widely publicised statement, LIV responded by saying: "The Tour has made these counterclaims in a transparent effort to divert attention from their anti-competitive conduct.

"We remain confident that the courts and the justice system will right these wrongs."

FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy – who has been a staunch critic of the LIV series – declared golf was "ripping itself apart" earlier on Thursday, as the bitter divide between the two circuits shows no signs of healing.

One day earlier, McIlroy called on LIV players to do more to foster a sense of reconciliation between the tours, declaring: "The ball is in their court".

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    Scottie Scheffler claimed his fourth win in five events on Monday when the weather-delayed RBC Heritage concluded at Hilton Head.

    That run includes a second Masters title and has seen the world number one extend his sizeable lead over Rory McIlroy at the top of the rankings.

    Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the facts and figures around Scheffler’s streak and how they compare to previous runs.

    What makes Scheffler’s streak so impressive?

    Winning any event on the PGA Tour is difficult, but Scheffler has claimed two of the biggest in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and Players Championship, a major championship at Augusta National and the RBC Heritage, which boasted a stronger than usual field after being elevated to a Signature Event this season. Victory at Sawgrass made Scheffler the first player ever to win back-to-back Players titles. His only “failure” was a tie for second in the Houston Open.

    Has this been done before?

    Scheffler is the first player to win four times in five starts on the PGA Tour since Tiger Woods, who did so at the end of 2007 and again to start 2008. He is also the third player in the last 30 years – after Woods and Vijay Singh (2004) – to win or finish runner-up in five consecutive starts on the PGA Tour. With many players taking a break after winning a major, Scheffler is also the first to win a PGA Tour event the week after claiming a green jacket since Bernhard Langer in 1985.

    How much has Scheffler earned?

    Scheffler has banked an average of £3.17million for each of his four victories and “only” £448,000 for his five-way tie for second behind Stephan Jaeger in the Houston Open. The total sum of £13.14m would place Scheffler 145th on the PGA Tour’s career earnings list and he is closing in on the single-season record of £17million he set last year. In comparison, Woods won nine times on the PGA Tour in 2000, including three major titles, and never finished worse than 23rd in 20 starts. His prize money totalled £7.4m.

    Does the world ranking reflect Scheffler’s dominance?

    In a word, yes. Ahead of the Genesis Invitational in mid-February, Rory McIlroy could have become world number one by winning at Riviera with Scheffler finishing third or worse. Now, Scheffler has more than double the total and average points of McIlroy, while the average points gap between the top two (7.6493) is bigger than that between McIlroy and the players tied for 4,123st in the standings.

    So is Scheffler the most dominant player in world golf?

    Not quite. Hours before Scheffler completed his victory in Hilton Head, fellow American Nelly Korda had wrapped up a fifth consecutive win on the LPGA Tour by claiming her second major title in the Chevron Championship. Korda’s winning streak matches that of Nancy Lopez in 1978 and Annika Sorenstam in 2004-05, although her bid for an unprecedented sixth straight win will have to wait after she cited exhaustion when pulling out of this week’s event in Los Angeles. While Scheffler has earned £13.14m from his last five events, Korda’s five wins have been worth £1.94m.

  • Scottie Scheffler matches Tiger Woods achievement with fourth win in five Scottie Scheffler matches Tiger Woods achievement with fourth win in five

    Masters champion Scottie Scheffler hailed his mental strength after making it four wins in five starts with a rain-delayed victory at the RBC Heritage.

    Scheffler returned to Hilton Head on Monday morning holding a five-stroke lead with three holes to play after a storm halted proceedings on Sunday.

    The world number one dropped a shot at the last to finish 19 under par, three shots ahead of fellow American Sahith Theegala, with Patrick Cantlay and Wyndham Clark another stroke back.

    Scheffler is the first player to win a PGA Tour event the week after claiming the Green Jacket since Bernhard Langer in 1985 and the first to win four times in five starts on the US-based circuit since Tiger Woods in 2007-08.

    Each of Scheffler’s last seven wins have come with at least eight of the world’s top 10 in the field and he is the third player in the last 30 years – after Woods and Vijay Singh – to win or finish runner-up in five consecutive starts on the PGA Tour.

    “I was able to go home for a couple days and celebrate,” Scheffler said.

    “I didn’t really put much thought into it. I had committed to playing the tournament here, it was part of the plan, so we stuck to the plan.

    “I talked about it at the beginning of the week – I didn’t show up here just to have some sort of ceremony and have people tell me congratulations. I came here with a purpose, got off to a slow start but after that played some really nice golf.

    “I do have fairly high expectations for myself and when I show up at tournaments, I try to do my best.

    “I’ve talked a lot about kind of the preparation and what it takes for me to show up on a first tee ready to go, and I feel like I’ve been putting in the work and been playing some good golf, and it’s nice to be seeing some results for that with wins.

    “On the course, I think the last month or so I’ve been as good mentally as I have in a long time and I think that’s why I am seeing some of the results.

    “This week could be a good example of starting off and looking at the leaderboard on Thursday and everybody is just making birdie after birdie and I’m sitting there over par and I’ve had a shank on the day.

    “I just did my best to stay patient and wait until I got hot.

    “Had a nice finish to the round on Thursday and then had a really solid Friday where I felt like I played better than I scored, and then I had Saturday where I just played some really good golf.”

    Rory McIlroy carded a final-round 74 to slip into a tie for 33rd.

  • Scottie Scheffler five strokes ahead with weather forcing a Monday finish Scottie Scheffler five strokes ahead with weather forcing a Monday finish

    Scottie Scheffler has a five stroke lead with just three holes to play after rain halted play in the RBC Heritage on Sunday.

    The US Open champion and world number one continued his great form at Hilton Head in South Carolina on the fourth day of the tournament, hitting an eagle and two birdies across 15 holes.

    A storm stopped play for two and a half hours with darkness forcing a finish on Monday.

    Fellow American Wyndham Clark had a strong day through his 18 holes, moving into second place with eight birdies and an eagle, but two bogeys and a double bogey stopped him from further encroaching on Scheffler’s lead.

    Clark is tied with American’s Patrick Cantlay and J T Poston, who have one hole left to play and Sahith Theegala, who has three holes left to play.

    Scheffler is looking for his fourth win in five starts.

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