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Saudi-backed LIV Golf, PGA Tour file joint motion to dismiss lawsuits

Yasir Al-Rumayyan attends the champion's ceremony at the LIV Golf Invitational-Chicago tournament on Sept. 18, 2022, in Sugar Hill, Ill. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

(AP) — Saudi-backed LIV Golf and the PGA Tour filed a motion late Friday to dismiss their antitrust lawsuit and countersuits, ending more than 10 months and enormous legal fees in a dispute that turned into a business agreement.

The filing in a northern California federal court was more procedural than a surprise.

It was a big part of the stunning June 6 agreement in which Saudi Arabia’s national wealth fund, the PGA Tour and the European tour became partners in a new for-profit company for commercial businesses.

Along with ending the antitrust complaints against each other, the motion asks for dismissal of an appeal involving whether the Public Investment Fund and its governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, would have to provide testimony.

The PIF and Al-Rumayyan were trying to claim an exemption from the Foreign Service Immunity Act. A federal magistrate had ruled they were not exempt because of the PIF’s involvement in the commercial enterprise of LIV Golf.

Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau were among 11 players who sued the PGA Tour in early August when they were suspended for defecting to LIV Golf. The rival league paid signing fees of $100 million or more, in addition to the $25 million in prize money for 48-man fields with guaranteed money at every tournament.

The lawsuit claimed the PGA Tour has used monopoly power to try to squash competition. The PGA Tour won an early court decision when a federal judge denied a temporary restraining order that would have let three LIV Golf players to compete in the tour’s postseason.

LIV Golf joined the lawsuit and eventually all 11 players pulled out of the lawsuit.

The PGA Tour filed a countersuit in September accusing LIV of “tortious interference” by inducing top players to breach contracts by claiming the tour could not enforce its rules.

Any jury trial was not expected until the middle of 2024 at the earliest as both sides wrangled over discovery issues.

But the case is not done yet. The New York Times earlier on Friday filed a motion to intervene, asking the court to unseal documents. That request is to be heard on Aug. 3.