Patrick Reed is the latest member of the LIV Golf Series to turn from the course to the courts, as the 2018 Masters champion has filed a $750m defamation lawsuit against Golf Channel and commentator Brandel Chamblee.
The civil suit filed on Tuesday in the US district court for the southern district of Texas in Houston, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, alleges that Chamblee and the cable 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 that 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 most respected corporations.
“This would be akin to stating that LeBron James has aligned himself with a ‘tyrannical, murderous leader’ because he plays in the National Basketball Association, which has intricate ties to the People’s Republic of China, whose government is accused of a current and ongoing genocide against the Muslim Uyghur people.”
Reed, 32, maintains that Chamblee’s opinions have led to fans heckling him and calling him a cheater at tournaments.
According to the complaint:
These induced personal attacks include but are not limited to: “Now on the tee the excavator!,” “You suck!,” “You f….. ing suck!,” “You jackass!,” “You coward! ,” “Shovel!,” Why don’t you dig a grave and bury yourself in it!,” “You piece of shit!,” “No one likes you!,” Everyone hates you Reed!,” “Good luck digging yourself out of this one!,” “Where are your parents coward?!,” “You cheater!,” “Cheat!,” “Everyone hates you cheater!,” “You’re going to miss this you cheater!,” “You cheat in college and on tour and you’re a piece of shit!” “Beat the cheater’s ass!” “Sorry Webb for having to play with the cheat! Who did you piss off?!,” “Why don’t you introduce your children to their grandparents you ungrateful bitch?!” This is just a sampling of what Defendants maliciously and intentionally caused and furthered with actual malice.
Although a nine-time winner on the PGA Tour, Reed apparently felt Monahan and the tour were after him.
The suit continues: “Despite his exceptional world-class golfing achievements, in June of 2022, Mr. Reed was constructively terminated as a member of the PGA Tour, as a result of threats made and action taken by its (sic) Commissioner Jay Monahan and his 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 their eight-tournament schedule in North Plains, Oregon, last month. He was suspended as a result.
The lawsuit, which is seeking in excess of $750m in damages, was filed by Larry Klayman, founder of the conservative group Freedom Watch, who has previously failed in prosecuting defamation suits on behalf of one-time US Senate candidate Roy Moore against the comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and former Maricopa county sheriff Joe Arpaio against a phalanx of national media outlets.