Report: DOJ pro golf inquiry includes major bodies aside from PGA Tour

The Department of Justice’s antitrust inquiry into professional golf is reportedly wider than previously thought.

Citing anonymous sources, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Augusta National Golf Club, which operates the Masters Tournament, the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America are also part of the investigation. WSJ had previously reported in July that the DOJ was investigating whether the PGA Tour had engaged in anticompetitive behavior against the Greg Norman-led and Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf Invitational Series.

According to the report, Augusta National had produced documents for the Department of Justice investigation. The WSJ reported that a spokesperson for Augusta National and a lawyer who represents the club both declined to comment.

The USGA confirmed the investigation to the Wall Street Journal and a spokesperson said the organization intended to fully comply with any and all requests.

The PGA of America and DOJ declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal had reported in July that golfers’ agents have received inquiries from the DOJ’s antitrust division involving both the PGA Tour’s bylaws governing players’ participation in other golf events, and the PGA Tour’s actions in recent months relating to LIV Golf, according to a person familiar with those inquiries.

LIV Golf is a plaintiff in an antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in which it claims that the PGA Tour has illegally used monopoly power to unfairly suspend LIV players from PGA Tour competition.

The PGA Tour has countersued, accusing LIV Golf of inducing top players to breach PGA Tour contracts by claiming the Tour could not enforce them.

The upstart LIV Golf Series has been criticized as another way for the Saudi government to sportswash its human rights record. The series of events — eight this year and 14 next year — offer alternatives to the Tour, such as 54-hole, no-cut tournaments that offer mega-million signing bonuses and exorbitant prize funds, including $120,000 to last place.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of wide-ranging human rights abuses, including politically motivated killings, torture, forced disappearances and inhumane treatment of prisoners. And members of the royal family and Saudi government were accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist.

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