Sports | June 1, 2022 3:44 pm

Dustin Johnson Loses RBC Endorsement Deal Over Commitment to LIV Golf Event

The two-time major winner has been an endorser for Canadian banking giant Royal Bank of Canada since 2018

Dustin Johnson hits a tee-shot at the Saudi International in 2021
Dustin Johnson hits a tee-shot at the Saudi International in 2021.
Andrew Redington/WME IMG/WME IMG via Getty

Following the surprise announcement that Dustin Johnson will be playing in next week’s Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational three months after declaring he was “fully committed” to the PGA Tour, the Royal Bank of Canada has dropped the world’s 13th-ranked player as an endorser. Golfer Graeme McDowell was also cut by the RBC.

Johnson, who had made a bit more than $1.6 million on the Tour this season, was one of 42 players who were announced on Tuesday as being part of the 48-man, 12-team event in London on June 9-11. Phil Mickelson, who many assumed would be part of the event given some of his public statements and absence from the PGA Tour, was not one of the 42 confirmed players.

“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,” an RBC spokesperson told ESPN. “We wish them well in their future endeavors.”

The RBC dropping Johnson, who has endorsed the Canadian banking giant since 2018, will hit the two-time Major winner in his wallet, but that blow will be offset by the $125 million the 37-year-old was paid by LIV CEO Greg Norman to commit to the series, according to The Telegraph. “Free agency has finally come to golf,” Norman said. “This is an opportunity to start a movement that will change the course of history by bringing new and open competition to the sport we all love.”

The Tour’s third all-time earner ($74.3M), Johnson will now have a shot at the $25 million in prize money ($4M for winning) that’s being offered up at the event by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Since the PGA Tour and European tour denied releases for players to compete at the LIV Golf Invitational, competitors will be risking punishment — possibly a loss of Tour membership — by competing.

“Dustin has been contemplating the opportunity off-and-on for the past couple of years,” Johnson’s agent David Winkle wrote in a statement. “Ultimately, he decided it was in his and his family’s best interest to pursue it. Dustin has never had an 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 choice to play at the LIV event for a pro like Johnson may not have been a difficult one if he really was paid $125 million by Norman just to compete. However, for players with lesser (or no) guaranteed paydays lined up, risking their tour eligibility and sponsorship deals is a major concern. It may not be cautionary for Johnson given his finances, but the situation is certainly worth a second thought for others who may be considering jumping ship.