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A Temporary Restraining Order Is the First Piece of Business as LIV Golf vs. the PGA Tour Begins in Court

LIV members Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones are within the top 125 and seek an immediate decision to be able to play in next week's playoffs.

Will current LIV members be permitted to play in the FedEx Cup playoff events that start next week?

That is now in the hands of U.S. District Judge Beth Labson Freeman in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Jose Division.

With Wednesday’s filing by 11 players of both an antitrust case and a motion for a temporary restraining order against the PGA Tour, the Tour will fight players who at the beginning of the year were among their dues-paying members.

While the antitrust case will go on likely for years, the temporary restraining order (TRO) is more immediate. The court would need to move quickly to possibly protect the rights of the three plaintiffs — Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones.

On Wednesday, the court set a schedule: the PGA Tour must file any opposition to the TRO by 8 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 8, and an in-person hearing would commence at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 9, in San Jose, California.

The legal standard for TROs is simple: 1) if the plaintiff is likely to succeed on the merits; 2) the plaintiff is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; 3) the balance of equity tips in its favor; and 4) an injunction is in the public interest.

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The burden to support each of the four merits outlined above is the plaintiffs' and as part of the request for the motion, the plaintiffs will focus arguments on the monopolistic actions of the Tour, its inherent unfairness in its own internal process for the suspensions and the fact that the three players in question will lose certain opportunities, including qualifying for 2023 majors and lost income from being excluded from the FedEx Cup.

Here's another way to look at it: if Gooch, Swafford and Jones are not permitted to play in the FedEx Cup, even if they win the bigger antitrust question, they will not be able to go back and play in the 2022 FedEx Cup playoffs.

On the other hand, if the judge rules favorably on the TRO, the tour can simply add three slots to the 125-man field to make it 128. Hardly much harm for the PGA Tour.

A letter written to the membership by commissioner Jay Monahan on Aug. 2 said that the PGA Tour has been preparing to protect its membership, contest this latest attempt to disrupt the Tour and that members should be confident in the legal merits of the Tour position.

Monahan further asserts in this letter that allowing re-entry of the three players in question would compromise the Tour and the competition to the determent of the organization, its players, partners, and fans.

So, the battle has now moved to where it was always desitined to go: the courts. It just got there a little faster than many of us expected.