LIV Golf

When did Bryson DeChambeau know he was going to LIV Golf? Lawsuit raises question

August 04, 2022

Bryson DeChambeau walks during the third round of the LIV Golf Invitational - Bedminster tournament.

Mike Stobe/LIV Golf

In mid-February, as speculation ran rampant about which PGA Tour players might be bound for the new Saudi-backed league, reports emerged that Bryson DeChambeau had been offered a nine-figure deal to jump ship. The No Laying Up podcast revealed that he had told fellow players that he was leaving the tour in January and again in February. DeChambeau denied that on social media on Feb. 14, calling the reports "inaccurate." A week later, after the Fire Pit Collective released its story on Phil Mickelson in which he called the Saudis "scary mother******s," DeChambeau released another statement signaling his intent to stay on the PGA Tour...with a caveat:

He was not alone—Dustin Johnson had re-committed to the PGA Tour just hours earlier, and there was a moment when the Mickelson debacle seemed like it might scuttle the LIV enterprise altogether.

We know how that worked out; DeChambeau joined LIV Golf on June 10—for a contract north of $125 million—and played his first event in early July in Portland.

Now, he and 10 other golfers have filed an antitrust complaint against the PGA Tour, and within the 105 pages of text is a curious section regarding DeChambeau's process of leaving the Tour for LIV Golf. Item No. 166 reads as follows:

The Tour’s threats of punishment and career destruction greatly affected LIV Golf’s ability to sign enough elite professional golfers to fill out its League. Some players (including Plaintiff DeChambeau) who had previously signed contracts with LIV Golf were forced to publicly profess loyalty to the Tour. Other players who had previously agreed in principle to all terms with LIV Golf informed LIV Golf that they now could not sign, and instead publicly professed loyalty to the Tour. Players who had been enthusiastic about joining LIV Golf informed LIV Golf that they regrettably could not join in light of these threats. Just as Commissioner Monahan had predicted in his 2020 Memorandum outlining the PGA Tour’s plan to attack a new entrant, a competing tour without player support would prove unable to pose a competitive threat to the PGA Tour.

This all but reveals that when the Mickelson fiasco went down in late February, DeChambeau had already signed some kind of contract with LIV Golf. The controversy clearly spooked him, along with Johnson and others, but it would now appear that his public statements about staying with the Tour were a hedge against the collapse of the venture. A hedge, that is, running contrary to the truth of what was actually happening behind the scenes—he had already signed a deal with LIV Golf.

Per the complaint text above, he wasn't alone, but it seems to show that DeChambeau's protestations about "inaccurate" reports and his commitment to the PGA Tour were never sincere, and that even while releasing those dual statements, his underlying intention was always to join LIV Golf as soon as it became a safe move.