WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Hall of Famer Phil Mickelson and three other golfers dropped out of a lawsuit on Tuesday which was filed against the PGA Tour last month over its decision to suspend players who participated on the new LIV Golf circuit.
Mickelson, who counts six major championships among his 45 career PGA Tour wins, asked to be dismissed from the lawsuit along with Talor Gooch, Ian Poulter and Hudson Swafford.
The players' decision to drop out of the lawsuit comes about a month after the PGA Tour, in a bid to curb the ongoing threat posed by LIV Golf, made sweeping changes including increased purses and an earnings assurance program.
The $255 million LIV series is being bankrolled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which critics say is a vehicle for the country to try to improve its image in the face of criticism of its human rights record.
"I am focused on moving forward and extremely happy being a part of LIV, while also grateful for my time on the Tour," Mickelson said in a statement provided by LIV Golf.
"I am pleased that the players on Tour are finally being heard, respected, and valued and are benefitting from the changes recently implemented.
"With LIV's involvement in these issues, the players' rights will be protected, and I no longer feel it is necessary for me to be part of the proceedings."
Mickelson and a long list of golfers filed the lawsuit in early August over its decision to suspend players, including Mickelson, for playing on the new LIV Golf circuit.
It was reported in July that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating whether the PGA Tour broke antitrust law in fending off the LIV Golf circuit.
"LIV stands with the players whom the PGA Tour has treated so poorly, but we also recognize that to be successful, we no longer need a wide array of players to be on the suit," LIV said in a statement.
"We have our players' backs and will press our case in court against the PGA's anti-competitive behavior."
The lawsuit also shed light on the status of fan favourite Mickelson, who took a self-imposed break in February when excerpts from an unauthorised biography revealed he had called the Saudis "scary" but was willing to look past their human rights record.
According to the lawsuit, Mickelson was suspended by the PGA Tour in March for, among other alleged reasons, trying to recruit players to LIV Golf and that his appeal was denied.
Mickelson applied for reinstatement in June, the lawsuit says, but that request was denied given his participation in the inaugural LIV event earlier that month.
In addition to denying Mickelson's request, the lawsuit said the golfer was forbidden from seeking reinstatement until March 2023, which was then extended until March 2024 after he played the second LIV event.
Mickelson's ban was only announced in June, shortly after he teed off in the first LIV event, when the PGA Tour announced its decision to suspend all members who joined the lucrative series and said anyone else who made the jump would face the same fate.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Frank Pingue, Editing by Franklin Paul/Chizu Nomiyama/Ken Ferris)