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PGA Tour Turns to Law Firm of Masters Chair to Defend Haney Case

Jan. 10, 2020, 6:26 PM

For a gentleman’s game, there is a lot of lawyering up going on in golf.

The PGA Tour has hired Foley & Lardner, where Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley is a partner, to defend itself against a lawsuit brought by Tiger Woods’ former swing coach, Hank Haney.

Foley & Lardner partner William Davis and associate Angelica Novick filed appearances on Thursday in the case, Hank Haney et al v. PGA Tour Inc., S.D. Fla., 0:19-cv-63108, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Haney sued the PGA Tour in December, alleging it had leaned on Sirius XM radio to terminate its contract with the swing coach after he made controversial comments about Asian women on the LPGA Tour. Haney apologized for the comments.

Haney’s lawsuit said the PGA Tour was motivated by a “long-standing animus” toward him after he released a book in 2012 detailing his time as Woods’ swing coach.

Foley & Lardner’s Davis did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Foley & Lardner has a practice representing golf clubs, and Ridley is a former president of the U.S. Golf Association, which puts on the U.S. Open.

Ridley was the 1975 U.S. Amateur champion, earning him the right to play alongside Jack Nicklaus in the 1976 Masters tournament. He remains the last amateur champion to not turn pro, opting instead for a career in law.

In the traditional ceremony for the winner of the Masters, Ridley last year asked Patrick Reed, the 2018 tournament winner, to present Woods with the green jacket for winning at Augusta for the fifth time.

Reed, the No. 11-ranked golfer in the world, is also making law-related headlines.

In a Dec. 13 letter obtained by Bloomberg Law, a lawyer representing Reed sent Golf Channel commenter Brandel Chamblee a letter demanding that he stop saying Reed “cheated” in a recent golf tournament.

The letter was sent by Sullivan & Worcester partner Peter Ginsberg, who also represents Haney in the suit against the PGA Tour.

In a tournament hosted by Woods in December, Reed was penalized two strokes after a video showed his club sweeping away sand from behind his golf ball. Reed said he did not intend his club to touch the sand.

That led to an eventful Presidents Cup the following week for Reed, where Australian fans hounded him over the incident.

Reed’s caddie and brother-in-law, Kessler Karain, was suspended from the final day of the team event after an altercation with a fan.

Chamblee couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com