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Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy at centre of legal move amid LIV furore

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have both been issued with subpoenas to provide further details of last week’s PGA Tour players’ meeting, amid accusations they are copying the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

Woods flew in on his private jet to attend last week’s meeting before the BMW Championship got underway in Delaware, with his peers hailing the 15-time major winner’s influence on proceedings.

The players-only meeting was held to discuss the threat posed by Greg Norman’s LIV Golf series, which has been backed with a reported $3 billion war chest to poach some of the PGA Tour’s best players.

Following the meeting, the PGA Tour announced a raft of changes that in many ways reflect some of the strategies that the Saudi-backed breakaway competition is employing.

Part of the PGA Tour’s plans involve having the best players commit to a 20-tournament schedule in which they will compete against one another up to 17 times for average purses of $US20 million ($A29 million).

The Tour is also doubling the bonus pool of its Player Impact Program to $US100 million ($A145 million) spread across 20 players, and changing the criteria so it’s geared more toward media exposure.

Larry Klayman, a lawyer representing the lead plaintiff in a case against the PGA Tour, is demanding the release of documents and audio or visual recordings of last week’s meeting before the BMW Championship.

“It is believed that discussions occurred which are alleged… to be anticompetitive and violative of the antitrust laws vis a vis the LIV Golf Tour and its players,” a press release states on behalf of LIV Golf.

The press release goes on to say that Woods was notice of a deposition on Sept 21, with McIlroy the following day and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan on Sept 27.

Klayman sarcastically suggested that the PGA Tour should be referred to as ‘LIV light’.

“This is not a personal ‘thing’ against Woods, McIlroy and Monahan,” said Klayman, who does not represent LIV Golf.

“It’s about getting information about what occurred at the players’ meeting and generally with regard to allegations in our complaint that the PGA Tour, the DP World Tour and their commissioners Jay Monahan and Keith Pelley, are allegedly colluding in restraint of trade and the antitrust laws to harm the LIV Golf Tour and its players.”

Klayman also described the PGA Tour’s increased prizemoney and moves to have the top players compete against each other more often as an attempt “to emulate LIV Golf, while continuing to allegedly harm LIV and its players by, among other alleged anticompetitive acts, working to deny them world ranking points to compete in major tournaments such as the Masters, US Open, British Open and PGA Championship.”

He added: “One can perhaps now call the new PGA Tour ‘LIV Light.’ We look forward to Woods, McIlroy and Monahan telling the truth, with sworn testimony, under oath. Their testimony is not just relevant but also crucial.”

Seen here, Tiger Woods Rory McIlroy are grouped together during a golf tournament.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy spearheaded plans for some massive changes to the PGA Tour. Pic: Getty

Norman – who is the CEO of LIV Golf – also accused the PGA Tour of copying his “homework” with regards to what the world’s top golfers want.

Lee Westwood – who is one of the more high-profile players to jump ship to the rebel competition – echoed Norman’s criticism and said the PGA Tour looked like hypocrites after announcing their changes.

Lee Westwood slams PGA Tour for copying LIV Golf

“I laugh at what the PGA Tour players have come up with,” Westwood told Golf Digest.

“It’s just a copy of what LIV is doing. There are a lot of hypocrites out there. They all say LIV is ‘not competitive.’

“They all point at the no-cut aspect of LIV and the ‘short fields.’ Now, funnily enough, they are proposing 20 events that look a lot like LIV.

“Hopefully, at some point they will all choke on their words. And hopefully, they will be held to account as we were in the early days.”

Pictured here, Lee Westwood looking on at the LIV Golf Invitational in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Lee Westwood looks on at the LIV Golf Invitational in Bedminster, New Jersey. Pic: Getty

As the PGA Tour continues to expand to compete with its new rivals, Westwood pinpointed the LIV Golf calendar as a key reason for his defection to the breakaway league.

“I’m looking forward to playing the LIV event in Miami at the end of October then not having to tee-up again until February,” he said.

“I’ll have four months off. At my age I can do some serious work in that time. I can get properly fit and come out leaner.

“I’ve just had a four-week break, three of those weeks I was on holiday. We have plans for later in the year and I’ll be able to spend more time with the family. It just gives me more options.

“Already I can say to people, ‘these are the 14 weeks I’m playing next year.’ And I can have some fun in the other 38.”

LIV Golf, backed by the Public Investment Fund in Saudi Arabia, has been paying big names – such as Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka – massive signing fees said to be worth $US150 million ($A217 million) or higher.

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