Report: U.S. Justice Department investigating PGA Tour for antitrust violations related to LIV Golf

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

The United States Department of Justice is investigating the PGA Tour over potential anticompetive moves as the top men's pro tour continues to battle upstart rival LIV Golf, The Wall Street Journal reports.

According to The Journal, the DOJ's antitrust division has reached out to player representatives to ask about the PGA Tour's governing over player participation in other golf events, and the PGA Tour's actions specifically related to LIV Golf.

"This was not unexpected," a spokesman for the PGA Tour told The Journal.

The PGA Tour and LIV Golf — a new tour backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign-wealth fund — have been butting heads for much of the year. A number of star players — including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson — have taken large quantities of money to join LIV and been suspended from the PGA Tour as a result.

"If this is an arms race and if the only weapons here are dollar bills, the PGA Tour can't compete," PGA commissioner Jay Monahan said in June, according to The Journal.

The PGA Tour has attempted to grow its prize pools and give players more schedule flexibility, but it can't compete with the millions being offered by LIV. As a result, the PGA Tour has had to flex other muscles from its by-laws, specifically as it relates to which non-PGA events players can participate in. These actions are why the LIV Golf leaders believe the PGA Tour is acting in an anti-competitive way.

A letter sent earlier this year from LIV Golf to PGA players earlier this year in an attempt to woo them away laid that argument out plain.

"There is simply no recognized justification for banning independent contractor professional golfers for simply contracting to play professional golf," the letter said, according to The Journal.

The Journal report adds that it's widely expected that the ongoing disputes between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf will face U.S. courts at some point.

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