Major Sponsor ‘Pauses Deals’ With 2 LIV Golf Defectors

Despite the threats of the PGA Tour, golfers who’ve defected to the LIV Golf tour faced little to no repercussions. Yes, the PGA suspended players from events, but players can still participate in majors. Also, in addition to the (often) large sign-on bonuses golfers got from the Saudi-backed LIV tour, they also kept their sponsors. This last part may be changing, though. Mastercard recently suspended ties indefinitely with two prominent LIV Golf players, Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell. And the company is not the first PGA sponsor to do so.

LIV Golf participants losing sponsors

Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland and Ian Poulter of England pose for a photograph during the LIV Golf Invitational draft. Mastercard paused its sponsorship deals with both golfers.
Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter | Aitor Alcalde/LIV Golf/Getty Images

As the PGA Tour fights to save itself from the upstart LIV Golf league, corporate sponsors are also doing their part.

Mastercard has sponsored the PGA Tour since 1995. Since 2004, has been the presenting sponsor of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Bay Hill event is one of the PGA Tour’s premier tournaments.  

The financial services company told ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren, “We have paused the activation of our relationship with Ian [Poulter] and Graeme [McDowell], recognizing the uncertainties around their standing with the PGA Tour.”

This isn’t the first company to break or suspend ties with golfers who’ve jumped to the LIV tour.

ESPN also reports that “Rocket Mortgage recently announced it was suspending its relationship with Bryson DeChambeau, RBC cut ties with Dustin Johnson and McDowell, and Phil Mickelson lost sponsorships from WorkDay, KPMG and Amstel.”

The interesting part about these sponsors is that, other than Amstel, these companies are all sponsors of PGA Tour events. There is the Rocket Mortgage Classic, RBC Heritage, The Memorial Tournament Presented by Workday, and KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Brooks Koepka has — so far — kept endorsements from companies that don’t directly sponsor PGA events, like Nike, and even those with a partnership with the Tour. Michelob Ultra is standing by Koepka, despite being the “Official Beer Sponsor of the PGA TOUR and PGA TOUR Champions,” per PGATour.com.

While losing sponsors hurts, many of these well-known golfers will be fine thanks to the eight- to nine-figure checks LIV golf cut them to come over. Plus, if LIV Golf is a success, plenty of other sponsors will happily fill the void.

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