Phil Mickelson Interviewed in Antitrust Inquiry Into Pro Golf

Unlike Major League Baseball, no golf organization has a blanket exemption from federal antitrust laws. A handful of organizations that have close ties to one another have run golf’s top echelon for generations but have withstood some scrutiny in the past.

The PGA Tour, the dominant professional circuit in the United States and LIV’s opponent in a pending antitrust lawsuit that the rebel league brought last year, stages tournaments that have often made up the majority of golfers’ competition schedules. But the tour does not run the four so-called major tournaments, which are the sport’s most cherished events and important ways for players to earn prize money and sponsorship-sparking clout.

This week’s P.G.A. Championship, for instance, is being overseen by the P.G.A. of America at Oak Hill Country Club, just outside Rochester, N.Y. The U.S. Open is organized by the United States Golf Association, and Augusta National Golf Club administers the Masters Tournament. (The R&A, which organizes the British Open, is based in Britain.)

The groups have not moved in lock step since LIV debuted last year — the circuit’s players, for example, have not faced bans from the majors — but professional golf’s establishment has remained a focus of antitrust investigators. Lawyers for LIV have cheered the government’s scrutiny and have regularly communicated with Justice Department officials, who have taken no stance on the league’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour and have not intervened in the case.

“If the system is rigged, then consumers are not getting the best product, and if that is the result of an agreement between two or more parties, then that becomes a violation,” said Stephen F. Ross, who teaches sports law at Penn State University and previously worked for the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

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