LIV Golf

A statement by a LIV Golf lawyer raised questions about LIV’s prize money

August 09, 2022

Chris Trotman/LIV Golf

A lawyer for LIV Golf during Tuesday’s temporary restraining order hearing in U.S. District Court in San Jose made a statement that called into question the matter of prize money on the Saudi-backed circuit.

In June, Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee reported that the prize money presumably awarded at LIV Golf events was taken out of players’ opulent signing bonuses. When a media member asked Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Pat Perez the veracity of the claim during their introductory press conference at the LIV Golf Invitational outside Portland, Ore., later that month, a LIV Golf representative shot down Chamblee’s report. Koepka initially said that wasn’t the case, before conceding he didn’t know and that it was “irrelevant.” Later in the press conference an LIV Golf representative from its law firm of Gibson Dunn spoke on the record.

"The prize purses are in addition to," the representative said. "There is no draw at LIV Golf on any finances. We just wanted to, on the record … it’s in addition to." Addressing the players, the representative said, "... this is your first event, but you should know that from your contracts. You can attest to it. Thank you guys.”

However, in presenting the case for Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones on why the players, suspended by the PGA Tour for joining LIV, should be granted emergency relief to compete in the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup Playoffs, one of the players' lawyers said that the money allegedly won during LIV Golf events is "recouped against the LIV contracts.”

Later in the hearing, microphones picked up LIV Golf’s lawyers discussing the admission among themselves. Although the entire conversation was not audible, one of the legal representatives can be heard mentioning “Chamblee.”

For their part, LIV Golf maintains they are telling the truth. "Our counsel was responding to a different question about recouping or offsetting FedEx Cup earnings," a LIV spokesperson told Golf Digest's Dan Rapaport. “We maintain that every player’s contract is separate from prize money.”

Gooch, Swafford and Jones lost their attempt to receive a TRO to play in this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship. The Mickelson vs. PGA Tour antitrust lawsuit is expected to begin in September.