The PGA Tour has slammed Australian Open winner Matt Jones for trying to ‘for free’ tour perks he ‘walked away from’ after being named among 11 LIV Golf defectors who filed a lawsuit in the United States.

Jones is among players, including Phil Mickelson, who were banned by the PGA Tour after joining Greg Norman’s Saudi-backed breakaway and now want their suspensions lifted.

Three of those players, including two-time Australian Open champion Jones, are also seeking a temporary restraining order to allow them to play in the FedEx Cup playoffs, which are due to start next week, with LIV events planned. for 2022.

But in a searing response, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said he would “vigorously” defend his legal position and in a letter to all members asked them to speak out publicly against those who “turned the back” to the tour, including Jones.

Monahan lashed out at Jones and those seeking re-entry into the FedEx Cup playoffs for trying to “force their way” into a competition they knew would be banned and “free” on member benefits. PGA Tour.

“Basically these suspended players – who are now Saudi Golf League employees – walked away from the tour and now want to come back,” he wrote.

“With the Saudi golf league on hiatus, they are trying to use lawyers to force their way into the competition alongside our members in good standing.

“It’s an attempt to use the tour to promote yourself and enjoy your benefits and efforts for free.

“Allowing the reinstatement of our events compromises the circuit and the competition to the detriment of our organization, our players and our fans.

“The lawsuit they filed somehow expects us to believe otherwise, which is why we intend to make our case clearly and vigorously.”

The lawsuit filed by the players alleges that the PGA Tour not only threatened golfers who sought to play in LIV tournaments, but also “threatened sponsors, vendors and agents to coerce players into giving up opportunities to play in LIV tournaments. LIV Golf events”.

He also claims that the PGA Tour “orchestrated a per se illegal group boycott with the European Tour to deny LIV Golf access to their members” and “relyed on” groups that run all four major championships. golf, urging them to ban LIV golfers from competing. in the most publicized events of the sport.

LIV golfer Phil Mickelson is a party to the lawsuit. Photo: Adrian Dennis / AFPSource: AFP

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland and escalated the golf war to a new level, with other LIV players already taking action in Europe after being suspended and sentenced to fined by the DP World Tour.

While Jones is the most high-profile Australian playing for Norman and LIV, British Open champion Cameron Smith remains a target for 2023, as do Adam Scott and Marc Leishman.

Successful legal action could prove a big tick for players who may be able to take a lot of money from Norman without their opportunities to play major championships being affected.

Earlier this week, golfing great and Team USA Presidents Cup captain Davis Love III said PGA Tour players are “fed up” with LIV converts trying to come back.

“We make the rules for the PGA Tour and the commissioner enforces our rules and we don’t want these guys playing and picking our tournaments,” he said.

“If we say to the FTC and to Washington, ‘No, we support the rules, we don’t want these guys to play, we don’t care what the courts say,’ our only option really, the nuclear option, is to say, ‘Well, okay, if they’re going to be at our events, we’re just not going to play.

“We support the PGA Tour and we support the rules and we have to defend them.”