By DOUG FERGUSON, AP Golf Writer
Phil Mickelson, the driving force among PGA Tour players from rival series LIV Golf, and three other players on Tuesday asked a federal judge to drop their names from the antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Ian Poulter separately filed a request to have their names removed. That leaves just three players – Bryson DeChambeau, Peter Uihlein and Matt Jones – and Saudi-funded LIV Golf as plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in early August.
The trial is not expected to begin until January 2024.
Mickelson’s decision came as no surprise. He had told SI.com two weeks ago that he no longer needed to be involved in the lawsuit now that LIV Golf had joined as a plaintiff.
“The only reason I’m staying is for the damage, which I don’t really want or need,” Mickelson said. “I think it’s important that players have the right to play when and where they want, when and where they qualify. And now that LIV is part of that, that will be accomplished if and when they win.
LIV Golf has already suffered a setback in court when U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman overturned a temporary restraining order that sought to allow LIV Golf players to participate in the lucrative PGA Tour playoffs.
Mickelson was one of the main recruiters for LIV Golf and its leader, Greg Norman.
In an interview with Alan Shipnuck for his biography on Mickelson, the six-time major champion said he recruited three other “top players” for LIV Golf and they paid lawyers to draft the club’s operating agreement. proposed league.
Mickelson was among the last players announced when LIV Golf and its $25 million purse began in early June. There are now five events, with the next two scheduled for October in Thailand and Saudi Arabia.
LIV Golf has 12 of the top 50 in the world rankings.
Patrick Reed dropped to the top 50 this week, in part because LIV Golf is not receiving World Ranking points while his candidacy for the official World Golf Rankings is being considered, a process that could take up to next summer.
“The PGA Tour for the last 20 or 30 years has had all the best players in the world. It will never be the case again,” Mickelson said two weeks ago. “LIV Golf is here to stay, and that type of talk whoever divides does no one any good.”
His hope was that LIV Golf and the PGA Tour would work together, which PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan says is unlikely. The PGA Tour has suspended all members who have signed with LIV Golf for violating tour regulations.
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