Judge rules PGA Tour can depose Saudi backers of LIV Golf
A U.S. federal judge has ruled the head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the financial backer of LIV Golf, must sit for depositions and produce documents in LIV Golf’s antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour.
Lawyers for the Public Investment Fund and its governor, Yasir al-Rumayyan, had sought to quash subpoenas claiming sovereign immunity.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ruled late Thursday that PIF’s involvement falls under the commercial activity exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act.
Her decision allows the PGA Tour to seek documents and any communication related to such matters as LIV Golf’s recruiting and negotiating with players, its business plans and its involvement in the new league.
If the ruling holds, it could pull back the curtain on the PIF’s business dealings.
The ruling, seen as a victory for the PGA Tour, comes one week before LIV Golf is set to begin its second season offering $25 million in prize money at its 13 events, with $50 million for the team championship finale.
Any trial in the lawsuit would not be until at least January 2024.
Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau were among 11 players who originally filed the antitrust lawsuit in August. LIV Golf joined the lawsuit, and eventually all but three players – DeChambeau, Matt Jones and Peter Uihlein – removed themselves as plaintiffs.
In her 58-page ruling, some of which was heavily redacted, van Keulen said PIF’s involvement was of commercial interest to Saudi Arabia.
“It is plain that PIF is not a mere investor in LIV; it is the moving force behind the founding, funding, oversight, and operation of LIV,” she wrote in her decision. “PIF’s actions are indisputably the type of actions by which a private party engages in trade and traffic or commerce.”
She also said al-Rumayyan was “personally involved in and himself carried out many of PIF’s activities” related to establishing, funding and operation of the rival league.
LIV Golf has accused the PGA Tour of using monopolistic powers to squash competition.
The Saudi-backed league has 48 players that compete individually for $20 million in prize money and through four-man teams that offer an additional $5 million purse.
With bonus money involved, Dustin Johnson made $35.6 million last year in eight tournaments. Johnson, Mickelson, DeChambeau and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka were some of the biggest names to join with signing fees reported to be in the range of $150 million.
The PGA Tour has responded to LIV’s threat by created “elevated” events that offer $20 million in prize money, such as the Genesis Invitational this week in Los Angeles. Top players, led by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, are involved in building a new model for the PGA Tour aimed at bringing the top players together more often.
The PGA Tour suspended the players for violating its membership regulations, which include requiring a release to play in overseas events. The tour does not allow players to compete in other tournaments in North America.
LIV Golf has eight events in the United States this year.
The offseason for LIV Golf included a television contract with The CW, giving its tournament a broadcast partner for U.S. markets. Previously, tournaments were available only through YouTube or live streaming.
But the league has gone through its share of shakeups from within.
Majed Al Sorour, the CEO of Golf Saudi and managing director of LIV Golf, was transitioned out of that role last month. It was one of many changes at LIV Golf during the offseason in which its chief operating officer, chief marketing officer and chief communications officer have left the circuit.
LIV Golf has announced the addition of two more players for the second season – Mito Pereira of Chile, who is No. 46 in the world ranking; and Sebastian Munoz of Colombia, who is at No. 96.
Bruins F Greer suspended one game for cross-checking Habs F Hoffman – TSN
Boston Bruins forward AJ Greer has been suspended one game by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens winger Mike Hoffman on Thursday night.
Boston’s A.J. Greer has been suspended for one game for Cross-checking Montreal’s Mike Hoffman. https://t.co/SZkcAlo8qk
— NHL Player Safety (@NHLPlayerSafety) March 24, 2023
The incident occurred in the first period of Thursday’s 4-2 Bruins win over the Canadiens when the two players were battling prior to a faceoff, which resulted in Greer cross-checking Hoffman in the face.
Greer received a five-minute major for cross-checking and a game misconduct, while Hoffman briefly left the game with an injury but returned in the second period.
Greer, 26, has five goals and 11 points in 52 games this season.
Play-off field complete at LGT World Women's Championship – worldcurling.org
The play-off field is set at the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023, taking place from 18–26 March in the Göransson Arena.
Switzerland women completed their round-robin campaign unbeaten (12-0), secured first place in the rankings and a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Norway finished second in the rankings with an 8-4 win-loss record, and they also secured a direct place in the semi-finals.
Canada are ranked third (7-5) and will play sixth-ranked Japan (7-5) in one qualification game. Fourth-ranked Italy (7-5) and fifth-placed hosts Sweden (7-5) will play in the other qualification game.
Both qualification games will take place on Saturday 25 March at 10:00 and the winners of these games earn a place in the semi-finals.
Switzerland will play the winner of the Italy vs Sweden game in one semi-final, while Norway will meet the winner of the Canada vs Japan game in the other semi-final.
Both semi-finals will take place on Saturday at 16:00.
The winners of the semi-finals will play for gold medals and the world title on Sunday 26 March at 15:00. The losers of the semi-finals will play for bronze medals earlier that day, at 10:00.
All times are CET (Central European Time) which is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +1 hour, except for 26 March, when times are CEST (Central European Summer Time) which is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) +2 hours.
Engage with the World Curling Federation during the LGT World Women’s Curling Championship 2023 on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Weibo and be searching the hashtags #WWCC2023 #curling
Canada narrowly qualifies for playoffs at women's curling worlds despite late loss – CBC.ca
Canada’s Kerri Einarson closed her round-robin schedule with an 11-5 loss to Denmark’s Madeleine Dupont on Friday but still managed to secure a playoff berth at the women’s world curling championship in Sandviken, Sweden.
Her Manitoba-based rink of Val Sweeting, Shannon Birchard and Briane Harris, which defeated Turkey’s Dilsat Yildiz 10-4 earlier in the day, finished in third place at 7-5 and will face sixth-place Japan (7-5) on Saturday in a qualification match at the Goransson Arena.
The top six teams advanced to the playoffs, with three-time defending champion Switzerland (12-0) and Norway (8-4) getting byes to the semifinals as the top two teams.
Canada fell to Japan 6-5 in round-robin play on Thursday.
Sweden (7-5) and Italy (7-5) meet in the other qualification game.
After conceding to Denmark after eight ends, Canada locked up a spot in a qualification game a short time later when American Tabitha Peterson dropped a 10-6 decision to South Korea’s Seungyoun Ha.
“We were going to have some anxious moments here waiting, but we knew there were a lot of scenarios here where we still make it through,” Birchard said.
The Americans missed the cut at 6-6.
Qualification games and semifinals were scheduled for Saturday and medal games were on tap Sunday.
Einarson won bronze at last year’s world playdowns in Prince George, B.C. Canada hasn’t won gold at this competition since 2018 when Jennifer Jones was victorious in North Bay, Ont.
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