Golf’s version of a soap opera took another plot twist last week.
Patrick Reed, who left the PGA Tour for the guaranteed riches of LIV Golf earlier this year, has filed a defamation lawsuit against commentator Brandel Chamblee and Golf Channel.
Reed, 32, the 2018 Masters champion, claims in a 30-page civil grievance filed Aug. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas’ Houston Division that Chamblee and Golf Channel have engaged in a “reckless disregard of the truth.”
Reed seeks $750 million in damages.
Reed and Chamblee have an acrimonious history. Chamblee, sometimes with the aid of Golf Channel video, has alleged that Reed has cheated on numerous occasions. Reed, for his part, sent Chamblee a cease-and-desist letter in January 2020 demanding that the analyst stop accusing him of cheating. Chamblee didn’t, so here we are (READ MORE).
A trial date has been set for Jan. 8, 2024, in LIV Golf’s federal antitrust claim against the PGA Tour. In “Phil Mickelson, et al., v. PGA Tour, Inc.,” LIV Golf alleges that the PGA Tour has engaged in antitrust behavior that restricts competition. Since 11 LIV Golf players filed the original 106-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California on Aug. 3, Carlos Ortiz and Pat Perez have dropped out of the grievance. The PGA Tour won the opening round of the legal dispute when three players who sought a temporary restraining order to compete in the FedEx Cup playoffs were denied by Judge Beth Labson Freeman.
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman has accelerated his push for world ranking points for his new tour, petitioning the Official World Golf Ranking for a “fair, objective and impartial review” in a letter obtained by ESPN. Norman said that the inclusion of his tour, which has attracted a growing roster of major champions and other top players, is “necessary for the integrity, accuracy and fairness” of the rankings, according to the report (READ MORE).
A bill was introduced in the New Jersey Legislature that would bar LIV Golf from returning to the Garden State. The Saudi-funded upstart tour recently played at Donald Trump-owned Trump Bedminster in New Jersey. The legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sens. Richard Codey and Andrew Zwicker, would prohibit sports organizations “operated primarily through use of monies received from sovereign wealth funds.” LIV Golf was launched earlier this year with support from Saudi Arabia’s oil-fueled Public Investment Fund. The senators cited the Saudis’ treatment of women and critics of the regime, plus the kingdom’s ties to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks – 15 of the 19 plane hijackers were Saudis – and role in the killing and dismemberment of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Survivors of 9/11 victims protested the event at Trump Bedminster, calling it “death golf” (READ MORE).
For all of its riches offered to golf’s top players, LIV Golf imposes plenty of restrictions and requirements, according to a draft contract reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The Saudi-funded tour, which reportedly has paid Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and other members of golf’s glitterati nine-figure signing bonuses, demands help in recruiting other players and tour permission before granting interviews and wearing branded products (READ MORE).
Jason Gore, a former touring pro who worked since 2019 with the USGA as its senior director of player relations, has accepted a similar position with the PGA Tour. Gore, 48, who won once on the PGA Tour, will serve as a senior vice president and player adviser to the commissioner as the tour seeks to stop rival LIV Golf from poaching players (READ MORE).
Four players have been added to the PGA Tour’s Player Advisory Council to replace defectors to LIV Golf, the tour announced. Though the PGA Tour did not mention the Saudi-funded rival circuit by name, Max Homa, Keith Mitchell, Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Streelman replaced Brooks Koepka, Graeme McDowell and Paul Casey. Because of a tie in voting by tour members, four players were named to replace the three defectors whose memberships were suspended. The PAC advises and consults with the PGA Tour’s Policy Board and commissioner Jay Monahan on issues affecting the tour (READ MORE).
The Asian Tour has expanded its International Series, a first-year venture with ties to LIV Golf. Two fall events in North Africa – International Series Morocco on Nov. 3-6 at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat and International Series Egypt on Nov. 10-13 at Madinaty Golf Club in Cairo – will be worth $1.5 million each. LIV Golf has committed $300 million to the Asian Tour as the Saudi-funded rival tour seeks to establish itself in professional golf (READ MORE).
Will Zalatoris, who won the PGA Tour’s playoff opener two weeks ago before withdrawing from last week’s BMW Championship with a back injury, intends to play this week’s Tour Championship, his manager said.
Zalatoris, 26, withdrew during the third round of the BMW at Wilmington (Delaware) Country Club after mid-round treatment failed to rid him of back pain. He was leading the FedEx Cup standings after his playoff victory a week earlier at the FedEx St. Jude Championship in Memphis, Tennessee, and assured a spot for this week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta.
According to a statement Saturday from his manager, Allen Hobbs, and released by the PGA Tour, Zalatoris “looks forward to playing next week in Atlanta” (READ MORE).
Every golfer suffers through a round during which no putts fall as the hole seemingly has been sealed shut. Well, in southern France, that’s what really happened, though poor putting had nothing to do with it.
Climate activists responded to golf-course greens being exempted from recent water bans during a severe drought by filling holes with cement. The group targeted courses near Toulouse, criticizing golf as a “leisure industry of the most privileged.”
Gérard Rougier of the French Golf Federation told the France Info news website that “a golf course without a green is like an ice rink without ice” (READ MORE).
The U.S. and International teams announced qualifiers for next month’s Presidents Cup after the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship on Sunday, based on the standings. Six players secured spots for the Americans: Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Sam Burns, Justin Thomas and Tony Finau. Eight players earned spots for the Internationals: Australia’s Cameron Smith, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, South Korea’s Sungjae Im, Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, South Korea’s Joohyung “Tom” Kim, Canada’s Corey Conners, Australia’s Adam Scott and Chile’s Mito Periera. Of course, it is all contingent upon any defections to LIV Golf not changing the qualifiers’ eligibility status. On Sept. 6, International captain Trevor Immelman will announce his four at-large selections to complete his team. On Sept. 7, U.S. counterpart Davis Love III will finalize his squad with six captain’s choices. The Presidents Cup is scheduled for Sept. 22-25 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Caroline (READ MORE).
American Rose Zhang won the Mark H. McCormack Medal as the top female golfer in the World Amateur Golf Ranking for a third consecutive year. Zhang, 19, of Irvine, California, and a sophomore at Stanford, has spent 101 weeks at the top of the WAGR. She won the 2020 U.S. Women’s Amateur, the 2021 U.S. Girls’ Junior and the 2022 NCAA for her national-champion Cardinal. Zhang joins New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (2011-13) and Ireland’s Leona Maguire (2015-17) as three-time winners of the award, given by the USGA and R&A (READ MORE).
President Joe Biden has accepted the role of honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, organizers announced. The biennial matches are scheduled for Sept. 22-25 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina (READ MORE).
Captain Suzann Pettersen has appointed three assistants for the 2023 Solheim Cup. Caroline Martens, who like Pettersen is Norwegian, will join England’s Laura Davies and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist as assistant captains for the Sept. 22-24 matches against the Americans at Finca Cortesín on Spain’s southern coast (READ MORE).
Dana Rader, an LPGA master professional who served as the director of instruction at Belfair in Bluffton, South Carolina, died Aug. 17 in Hilton Head Island. She was 64 and had suffered from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a degenerative brain disorder, according to her online obituary (READ MORE).
Bob Randquist, the chief operating officer at the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and a former president of the trade group, announced that he will retire, effective Oct. 15, the GCSAA announced. Randquist spent 50 years in course management (READ MORE).
Dr. David Marsh, a two-time English Amateur champion and member of Great Britain and Ireland’s victorious 1971 Walker Cup team who also played a leading role with Everton Football Club as a founding member of the Premier League, died recently of undisclosed causes. He was 88. Marsh, a general practitioner, also captained GB&I’s 1973 and 1975 squads (READ MORE and MORE).
The AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open will be played for the first time since 2019, the DP World and Sunshine tours announced. The co-sanctioned event will be held Dec. 15-18 at Mont Choisy Le Golf on the Indian Ocean island nation (READ MORE).
The English Trophy, a Challenge Tour event originally scheduled for next month at Frilford Heath Golf Club in Frilford, England, has been rescheduled for Oct. 13-16, the developmental tour announced, citing concerns about the drought in southern England (READ MORE).
Staff and wire reports