Have Masters officials tried to discourage pros from joining LIV Golf? A lawsuit claims they did just that

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What role have Augusta National and Chairman Fred Ridley played in the current feud between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf Invitational Series? More than you might think as a 105-page complaint filed by Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau and nine other players asking for a temporary restraining order so LIV defectors can compete in the upcoming FedEx Cup Playoffs must be believed.

“Augusta National, the promoter of The Masters, has taken multiple actions to indicate it is on par with the PGA Tour, raising doubts among top professional golfers whether they will be barred from future Masters tournaments,” said an antitrust lawsuit submitted by 11 LIV. golfers on Wednesday against the Tour. “For starters, the ties between the PGA Tour and Augusta National are deep. Augusta National’s actions indicate that the PGA Tour has used these channels to pressure Augusta National into fulfilling its bids. For example, in February, representatives of Augusta National threatened to invite players from The Masters in 2022 if they joined LIV Golf.”

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It notes, among other things, that Tour Augusta National officials have been asked to attend “an emergency meeting” of the players’ advisory board meeting in May ahead of LIV Golf’s first tournament once the field was announced, “to assess the ramifications.” discuss for players participating in LIV golf.” Although officials did not attend the meeting, they did tell players in attendance that the Tour and Augusta National had agreed to work together in tackling LIV Golf, prosecutors said.

“The threat of Masters exclusion is a powerful weapon in the Tour’s arsenal to deter players from joining LIV Golf,” the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges that Fred Ridley, the president of Augusta National, worked behind the scenes against LIV Golf.

“In addition, Fred Ridley, president of Augusta National, personally instructed a number of participants in the 2022 Masters not to play in the LIV Golf Invitational Series. It is clear that these threats served no beneficial purpose for top players, as they would only serve to weaken the field in the Masters,” the claim said.

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The lawsuit also says that Ridley has turned down a request for a meeting from LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.

Ridley is also said to have called Asian Tour CEO Cho Minn Thant along with R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers “to threaten the ramifications regarding the Asian Tour’s position in the current ‘ecosystem’ as the Asian Tour LIV Golf.” and would continue to support its LIV Golf Invitational Series.”

In his only public comments regarding LIV Golf, Ridley said at the Masters in April: “Our mission is to always act in the best interests of the game in whatever form it takes. I think golf is in a good place now. There’s more participation, the purses on the pro tours are the highest they’ve ever been. We’ve been pretty clear in our belief that the world tours over the years have done a great job promoting the game. Beyond that, there’s so much that we don’t know about what could happen or what could happen, I can’t say much more than that.”

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There are six former Masters champions who have signed up for LIV Golf — three-time champion Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel and Bubba Watson, a two-time green jacket winner who last week announced his intentions to joins LIV as soon as he was healthy and began his involvement as a non-playing captain with the start of next Labor Day week near Boston.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of large-scale human rights violations, including politically motivated killings, torture, enforced disappearances and inhumane treatment of detainees. And members of the royal family and the Saudi government were charged with involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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