Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell Sponsorships Ended by RBC amid LIV Series Involvement

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Dustin Johnson, Graeme McDowell Sponsorships Ended by RBC amid LIV Series Involvement

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

The Royal Bank of Canada confirmed it has
terminated sponsorship contracts with longtime PGA Tour players
Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell after they were listed as expected
participants for the debut LIV Golf Invitational Series tournament.

“As a result of the decisions made
by professional golfers Dustin Johnson and Graeme McDowell to play
the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener, RBC is terminating its
sponsorship agreement with both players. We wish them well in their
future endeavors,” an RBC spokesperson told ESPN’s Mark
Schlabach on Wednesday.

The first LIV event is scheduled to
begin June 9 at the Centurion Club in London.

Johnson was the biggest surprise among
those named on the entry list for next week’s event. The two-time
major champion said in February he was “fully committed” to the
PGA Tour, but clearly changed his mind over the last three months.

His agent, David Winkle, released a
statement Tuesday night about the decision.

“Dustin has been contemplating the
opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years. Ultimately, he
decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it,”
Winkle said. “Dustin has never had any issue with the PGA Tour and
is grateful for all it has given him, but in the end, felt this was
too compelling to pass up.”

The LIV Golf Series will offer $255
million in prize money over eight events, per Schlabach.

In May, the PGA Tour announced it would
deny waivers for players to compete in the rival tour and previously
suggested players could face a permanent ban for playing in LIV
events.

Greg Norman, the CEO of LIV Golf and a
20-time winner on the PGA Tour, said he doesn’t believe the Tour has
legal standing to deny players freedom of tour movement, per
Schlabach.

“I can only speak on information
given to me by our legal team, and I have an extremely talented legal
team in antitrust and anti-competitive laws, and we believe we’re in
the right position,” Norman said. “We believe the players
are independent contractors and have a right to go play wherever they
want to go play.”

The issue is likely heading toward an
extended court battle.

In the meantime, it’s unclear whether
golfers who take part in the first LIV Series tournament will be
eligible for the last two major tournaments of the 2021-22 season, the
U.S. Open in mid-June and The Open Championship in mid-July.

McDowell has won four PGA Tour titles,
including the 2010 U.S. Open, which saw him hold off the likes of
Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els in the final round.

He’s missed the cut in eight of the 15 PGA Tour events he’s played this season and has yet to record a top-10
finish.

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