These golf sponsors have – and haven’t – let down Saudi-backed LIV players

Topline

Rocket Mortgage joined Several other major companies have ended their sponsorship of star golfers following their defection from the PGA Tour to the controversial Saudi-funded LIV Golf series as the backlash against LIV Golf participants grows.

Highlights

Rocket Mortgage dropped Bryson DeChambeau on his intention to join LIV Golf on Thursday, the company said in a statement to multiple outlets, citing his strong commitment to the PGA Tour.

Royal Bank of Canada ended its sponsorship of golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell last week after the two were included in the field for LIV Golf’s first tournament which kicked off near London on Thursday.

Rocket Mortgage and RBC were pushed into action over other sponsors, as they are each named sponsors of PGA Tour tournaments that golfers could not attend.

Amstel, KPMG and Working day all dropped Phil Mickelson in February for his explosive comments defending the funding of LIV Golf despite the Saudi government’s human rights record.

Callaway put his sponsorship of Mickelson on hold to be reassessed at a later date.

UPS ended its sponsorship of Lee Westwood last month after he requested a waiver to participate in the first LIV golf tournament, Westwood and company said Sports Illustrated.

Contra

Besides Callaway, other golf equipment manufacturers have remained silent about their ties to LIV Golf players. On the very first day of play at LIV Golf on Thursday, Johnson wore a TaylorMade hat, Ian Poulter wore a Titleist hat and Louis Oosthuizen wore a PING hat, indicating their relationship with their longtime sponsors was continuing as usual. . Mickelson notably did not wear any corporate logos on Thursday, but did put on a vest with the logo of Augusta National Golf Club, host of the Masters.

Key Context

The PGA Tour’s first true contender, LIV Golf’s tournament this week is the first of eight events in 2022. With seemingly unlimited funding, the new league has lured big names like Johnson and Mickelson with contracts worth over $100 million. LIV Golf’s prize money dwarfs that of the PGA Tour, offering $25 million in prize money for each regular season tournament, nearly tripling the average PGA Tour purse of $9.1 million. On Thursday, the PGA Tour suspended 17 golfers competing in the LIV Golf event and announced it would also suspend any golfers who join the other tour in the future. Poulter told reporters on Friday he planned to appeal the decision, saying the ban “makes no sense.”

Further reading

RBC stops sponsoring golfers Johnson and McDowell following their decision to drop the PGA Tour for LIV Golf (Forbes)

As far as prize money goes, LIV Golf’s London debut is blowing the PGA Tour (Forbes)

LIV Golf: Who’s in it and what we know about the Saudi-funded league kicking off on Thursday (Forbes)

Michael C. Ford