PGA Suspended Phil Mickelson for Two Years

Phil Mickelson, a Hall of Famer for more than a decade who has 45 PGA Tour victories, won’t be allowed to apply for reinstatement to the PGA Tour until March 31, 2024, as part of a disclosure in lawsuit filed by 11 LIV Golf players.

Mickelson 52, a lifetime member of the Tour because he’s won at least 20 times and been a member for a minimum of 15 years, was originally suspended by commissioner Jay Monahan on March 22 for a period of two months due to his recruitment of PGA Tour players to compete in LIV Golf events.

The lawsuit, which seeks to have the indefinite suspensions lifted while seeking temporary injunctions for three players – Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford – to allow them to compete in the upcoming FedEx Cup playoffs, is being backed by LIV Golf Investments.

The controversial new venture, which is going by the LIV Golf Invitational Series, features eight events this year and will transition to the LIV Golf League in 2023 with a 14-tournament schedule.

Mickelson, who won his sixth major title in 2021 at age 50 to become the oldest major champion, was among several players including Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia to sign lucrative guaranteed multi-year deals to compete in LIV events, which offer $25 million purses.

DeChambeau joined Mickelson in the lawsuit but Koepka and Reed have not done so. Johnson and Garcia resigned their PGA Tour membership after joining LIV.

As disclosed in the lawsuit, Mickelson was suspended for two months, and he applied for reinstatement on June 20 but was denied. By competing in the first LIV event in London, Mickelson’s suspension was extended until March 31, 2023. When he played in the Portland LIV event, it was extended again until March 31. 2024.

The PGA Tour’s policy has been to grant a player conflicting event releases for overseas tournaments, up to three per year, with stipulations beyond that. It declined such releases to the London event due to its belief that LIV was a hostile competitor. It has never granted releases for domestic events, most likely the reason for the longer penalties.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated on the eve of the first LIV Golf event in June, Mickelson said he was not resigning his PGA Tour membership and believed that his lifetime status should matter. As a lifetime member, he is not required to play a minimum number of events.

“I’m certainly grateful for the 30-plus years that I’ve had with the PGA Tour,’’ Mickelson said. “The many memories and experiences that I’ve shared. And I’d like to think that I contributed to the PGA Tour over that time. And I have earned a lifetime membership. I’m hopeful that stays the same. I also feel it’s important for any player to have the right to play wherever they want, in addition to me being able to keep my lifetime membership.’’

Mickelson later added during the interview: “I worked really hard to earn that lifetime membership. And I’m hopeful that I’ll have the ability to play wherever I want whether it’s the PGA Tour, LIV or wherever else I want.’’

The lawsuit noted the “Tour’s anticompetitive scheme is apparent from the disciplinary action levied against Plaintiff Micklelson,’’ and pointed out several ways it believes he is being harmed because of the “Tour’s unlawful suspensions.’’

Among those grievances expressed:

“The Tour’s suspension has denied Mr. Mickelson the right to the platform and the public exposure provided by playing on the Tour. The Tour’s suspension has denied Mr. Mickelson the opportunity to hone and maintain his golf game by playing professional golf in the tournaments that he would choose to play. The Tour’s suspension has denied Mr. Mickelson access to play professional golf before his fans via live attendance and video broadcast of Tour events. The Tour’s unlawful conduct cost Plaintiff Mickelson endorsement deals and sponsorships. Notably, the Tour is the only golf tour shown regularly on broadcast television in the United States, and it earns vastly more in sponsorship, advertising, and broadcast revenue than any other golf tour. The Tour’s unlawful conduct eliminated Plaintiff Mickelson’s opportunity to earn up to $10 million annually in the Player Impact Program, a program that measures player impact by, among other things, calculating the player’s Nielsen score (how often a player is featured during PGA Tour tournament broadcasts). The Tour’s suspension has denied Mr. Mickelson the opportunity to earn FedEx Cup rankings and OWGR rankings.’’

Original Article

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