LIV Golf attorneys’ request for communications from Condoleezza Rice, others at Augusta National as part of antitrust suit is denied
In what appears to be a failed attempt to pull more sides into the fracas, LIV Golf filed a request earlier this month to obtain third-party discovery of communications involving members of Augusta National as part of its antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour. That request was denied in court Monday, according to documents obtained by Golfweek.
LIV Golf attorneys served subpoenas to former PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem as well as a half dozen of the Tour’s policy board directors past and present in the most recent round of legal salvos. Included in that filing was a request to produce all communications between the parties “and any member of Augusta National relating to a New Tour, including but not limited to LIV Golf.”
LIV Golf lawyers contended that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Stephens Bank CEO Warren Stephens “apparently attempted to influence the DOJ (Department of Justice) to not investigate the Tour.”
However, a U.S. District Court of Northern California judge struck down the request Monday. The ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Van Keulen stated:
The cited documents do not implicate in any way the Subpoenaed Parties. Nor do they reflect communications by or between the identified additional targets. Indeed, for the most part, the identified targets appear merely as names on lists or in other oblique references made by others. Any connection between an identified target and a Subpoenaed Party, based on the cited documents, is highly speculative.
LIV Golf attorneys have alleged that the PGA Tour has used monopoly power to illegally suspended players, but the most recent accusations center around if the Tour attempted to use the threat of not playing in future Masters as leverage in the ongoing battle.
Past Masters champions and current LIV Golfers Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Sergio Garcia will be among those invited for the 2023 playing of the event, Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley confirmed in December.
“We will invite those eligible under our current criteria to compete in the 2023 Masters Tournament,” Ridley wrote. “Regrettably, recent actions have divided men’s professional golf by diminishing the virtues of the game and the meaningful legacies of those who built it. Although we are disappointed in these developments, our focus is to honor the tradition of bringing together a preeminent field of golfers this coming April.”
Ridley left open the possibility that the eligibility criteria, which includes using the Official World Golf Ranking to determine invitees, could be revised in the future, meaning more LIV Golf players could potentially qualify.
“As we have said in the past, we look at every aspect of the Tournament each year, and any modifications or changes to invitation criteria for future Tournaments will be announced in April,” he said.
Golf Twitter reacts to the LIV players vs. PGA Tour court hearing and several interesting takes from the LIV Golf lawyer