MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s not often legal wrangling in a courtroom 2,000 miles away pulls the attention of some of the game’s top players, but Tuesday at TPC Southwind the scene in the locker room was surreal.
Before Judge Beth Labson Freeman in the U.S. District Court Northern District of California, teams of lawyers from the PGA Tour and a threesome of suspended players seeking a temporary restraining order to play this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship argued their cases. Freeman ultimately denied the suspended players – Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford – relief, but the two-hour hearing was appointment viewing in Memphis.
According to numerous sources, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Will Zalatoris huddled around an iPad to watch the proceedings in San Jose, Calif., via Zoom. “They were all nervous until the ruling,” said one person who was in the locker room. “Pretty wild scene.”
According to another source, Freeman’s ruling was met with happy relief. The Tour’s lead attorney, Elliot Peters, argued that the alternative would be an unprecedented disruption if the suspended players were allowed to play the first playoff event. “The Tour would be creating a stage for the competition [LIV Golf],” Peters said.
The suspended players were also likely drawn to the hearing, and according to one source, two of the players who were suspended by the Tour for violating the circuit’s policy and playing the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, Swafford and Gooch, were spotted in Memphis late Tuesday.