Patrick Reed is the latest member of the LIV Golf Series to turn to the law courts to seek justice, as the 2018 Masters champion has filed a $750m defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel and commentator Brandel Chamblee.
The civil suit, was filed on Tuesday in a US district court in Texas, alleges that Chamblee, who is a former PGA TOUR player, and the cable TV network conspired with the PGA Tour and commissioner Jay Monahan to defame Reed “since he was 23 years old”.
Reed’s allegations in the 30-page complaint include “misreporting information with falsity and/or reckless disregard of the truth, that is with actual and constitutional malice, purposely omitting pertinent key material facts to mislead the public, and actively targeting (Reed) to destroy his reputation, create hate, and a hostile work environment for him”.
“It is well-known on tour that Mr Reed has been abused and endured more than any other golfer from fans or spectators who have been allowed to scream obscenities only to be glorified by NBC’s Golf Channel for doing so,” the lawsuit reads. “[Chamblee] has become Golf Channel’s primary mouthpiece and agent to push this defamatory agenda and inflict severe damage to Mr Reed, LIV, and other golfers signed with LIV.”
In January 2020, Reed’s lawyer sent Chamblee a cease-and-desist letter demanding he not repeat accusations that Reed cheated during a tournament. Reed was penalized two strokes at the Hero World Challenge in 2019 for improving his lie in a bunker, but he claimed he didn’t intend to do so.
Chamblee continued to take Reed to task over the years, not only for cheating allegations, but also for his decision to defect from the PGA Tour to LIV Golf earlier this year. The complaint also takes objection to Chamblee’s remarks that Reed “would have no problem playing golf for Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Vladimir Putin”.
“This statement is false because Mr Reed never aligned himself with a ‘tyrannical, murderous leader.’” the suit reads. “He is playing golf for LIV, which simply happens to be financed by the PIF, which has invested in and financed some of the nation’s and the world’s largest and respected corporations.”
Reed, who has won nine PGA Tour events his career, maintains that Chamblee’s opinions have led to fans heckling him and calling him a cheat at tournaments. The suit continues: “Despite his exceptional world-class golfing achievements, in June 2022, Mr Reed was constructively terminated as a member of the PGA Tour, as a result of threats made and action taken by its Commissioner Jay Monahan and the PGA Tour, and signed with LIV Golf.”
The PGA Tour indefinitely suspended its members who played in the first LIV event in June without the tour’s consent. Reed did not join LIV until the second event of its eight-tournament schedule in Oregon last month. He was suspended as a result.
Last week three LIV golfers, Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford, failed in their legal attempt to be allowed to play in the FedExCup, the PGA Tour’s three-tournament play-off series, with the judge ruling in the PGA Tour’s favour that it should be allowed to ban or suspend players who didn’t abide by its rules.