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Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter launch Saudi rebels lawsuit against PGA Tour

Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter lead Saudi rebels lawsuit against PGA Tour - AFP

Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter lead Saudi rebels lawsuit against PGA Tour – AFP

Phil Mickelson is suing the PGA Tour, with the details of his and other LIV rebels’ unprecedented action revealing that the six-time major winner was secretly banned in March for recruiting players to the Saudi circuit.

The case of Mickelson and 10 other Tour players – including England’s Ian Poulter – against their indefinite suspensions is a notable escalation in the LIV Golf saga, which was exclusively signposted in Telegraph Sport last week. The sport has just become even more polarized with Justin Thomas the first of the loyalists to lay into the rebels.

“They are suing the Tour, they are suing their fellow players, they are suing me, they are suing Rory [McIlroy] they are suing Tiger [Woods] they sued every single Tour player they looked in the eyes and played with, and played on cups with,” Thomas told NLU, alluding to the fact that the Tour is owned by the players. “They are suing us all.”

Bryson DeChambeau, Abraham Ancer, Carlos Ortiz, Pat Perez, Jason Kokrak and Peter Uihlein are among the other players putting their names to the suit, arguing that the PGA Tour is trying to hurt their careers.

“The Tour’s conduct serves no purpose other than to cause harm to players and foreclose the entry of the first meaningful competitive threat the Tour has faced in decades,” the lawsuit, which was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, states.

“The purpose of this action is to strike down the PGA Tour’s anti-competitive rules and practices that prevent these independent-contractor golfers from playing when and where they choose.”

In response, the PGA Tour released a memo written to players by commissioner Jay Monahan in which he described the 11 players as former colleagues who have “walked away from the Tour” and said they were now “Saudi Golf League employees”.

“We have been preparing to protect our membership and contest this latest attempt to disrupt our Tour, and you should be confident in the legal merits of our position,” Monahan wrote. “With the Saudi Golf League on hiatus, they’re trying to use lawyers to force their way into competition alongside our members in good standing. It’s an attempt to use the Tour platform to promote themselves and to freeride on your benefits and efforts.”