Judge dismisses Masters winner Reed's US$750m defamation lawsuits

MIAMI: Two defamation lawsuits filed by former Masters champion Patrick Reed against golf reporters and media outlets were dismissed on Wednesday by a federal judge in Florida.

Reed was seeking US$750 million in damages from 18 parties, including The Golf Channel, Golfweek and other media as well as several reporters, claiming they conspired with the PGA Tour to defame him and spread lies about him during the PGA Tour's fight with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf League.

"While Reed may be frustrated at the negative media coverage he receives (some of which seems over the top), under Florida law and the First Amendment, Reed fails to bring actionable defamation claims and his cases therefore must be dismissed," US District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan wrote in the ruling.

Reed won nine times on the PGA Tour, including a green jacket triumph at Augusta National in 2018, before departing for the upstart LIV series last year.

The 33-year-old Texan, whose Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup heroics earned him the nickname "Captain America", said he suffered personal attacks and a hostile workplace as a result of spoken and written comments that also cost him sponsorship opportunities.

But Jacksonville-based Corrigan dismissed amended complaints by Reed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be refiled.

The amended complaint claimed more than 50 different statements were defamatory.

"However, many of the statements are not about Reed. Some statements are about LIV Golf, of which Reed is a member, but not specifically about Reed," Corrigan wrote.

"Others are matters of opinion or permissible rhetorical hyperbole. Still others are statements of fact, the truth of which are not challenged. And Reed does not meet the required pleading of actual malice to hold the press liable for defamation."

Reed, who shared fourth at this year's Masters, won seven matches, lost three and tied two for the Americans in three Ryder Cup appearances, last playing in the event in 2018.--AFP

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