Judge dismisses Hank Haney lawsuit against the PGA Tour
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Judge dismisses Hank Haney lawsuit against the PGA Tour

Credit: Callaway Golf


A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Tiger Woods' former golf teacher, Hank Haney, against the PGA Tour over his 2019 firing from SiriusXM PGA Tour Radio.

In December 2019, Haney filed suit in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, claiming the PGA Tour "improperly intimidated, enticed and threatened SiriusXM Radio to suspend and ultimately terminate" Haney and his show, "Hank Haney Golf Radio," which aired on SiriusXM's PGA Tour Radio channel.

Haney was fired after making comments on his show in May 2019 which dismissed the US Women's Open and mocked top-ranked Korean players. With co-host Steve Johnson, Haney claimed an ignorance of LPGA Tour players, suggesting a player named "Lee" would win the US Women's Open. Sensing a Twitter backlash, Haney apologized for the comments on air and later on social media.

In his suit, Haney claimed that the PGA Tour meddled in SiriusXM's business to influence his firing. Haney also claimed the PGA Tour held a long-term vendetta against him. He claimed the PGA Tour pressured Golf Channel to end his show "The Hank Haney Project" and negatively affected sales of his Tiger Woods tell-all book, "The Big Miss."

The Tour filed a request for summary judgment to dismiss the case in February 2020.

"Plaintiffs make several statements allegedly documenting PGA Tour's 'vendetta' against Haney originating in 2012," the Tour's attorneys wrote in their motion to dismiss. "Yet, if PGA Tour actually possessed this vendetta as Plaintiffs allege, then it seems inapposite that PGA Tour would not have protested initially and insisted SiriusXM refuse to air his program on PGA Tour Radio when Sirius XM entered into a multi-year contract in 2017 with Haney allowing him to broadcast on PGA Tour's branded radio channel. Accordingly, not only do Plaintiffs not have any support for this unsubstantiated allegation, but the facts belie such an assertion."

US District Court Judge Rodolfo Ruiz agreed with the Tour's view, writing an opinion filled with golf references and puns.

"As the Court remarked at the outset of this matter, the allegations teed up in this case -- like a well-hit drive on the golf course -- [have] avoided pleading hazards . . . remained in bounds, and left Plaintiffs with an opportunity to take their next shot," Ruiz wrote in his ruling. "However, Plaintiffs' next shot has not fared as well as their opening drive. In an effort to reach the green and get this matter to trial, Plaintiffs' approach has found the water. And the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not provide for mulligans. ... Plaintiffs' round has come to an end."

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