Johnson And McDowell Dropped By RBC Over Saudi-Backed LIV Series

The Royal Bank of Canada has ended its relationship with the pair after they signed up for next week's LIV Golf Series opener

Graeme McDowell and Dustin Johnson during the 2019 US Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The dust is still settling on the names revealed in the LIV Golf Invitational Series field. However, two of its most high-profile entrants are already experiencing the fallout from their decisions to play in next week’s opening event at London’s Centurion Club.

The Royal Bank of Canada has issued a statement explaining that it is ending its relationship with headliner Dustin Johnson and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell because of their involvement. The statement reads: “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 endeavours.”

There had been speculation Johnson, who has had a relationship with RBC since 2018 and was an ambassador for the bank, would likely lose it as a sponsor in the coming days. Earlier, the bank said it was “extremely disappointed” that Johnson had opted to skip next week’s RBC Canadian Open in favour of the Series opener. 

RBC has not been slow to react, with the news coming less than a day after the American was revealed as the marquee name for the event after reportedly being lured by the prospect of a $125m payment.

While that colossal sum will undoubtedly cushion the financial blow of losing one of his most high-profile sponsors, it is likely to come as a bigger, although hardly unexpected, blow for McDowell. After all, the pair are not the first to have their sponsorships terminated due to associations with the Saudi-backed Series, which has been the subject of several controversies throughout 2022, including allegations of sportswashing. Last month, Louis Oosthuizen and Lee Westwood appeared to have lost their UPS deals, while Phil Mickelson also lost sponsors due to his explosive comments about both the Series and the PGA Tour.

Even though McDowell isn’t thought to have been enticed to the Series with the offer of big money, the opening tournament's $25m purse is undoubtedly a significant incentive for a player who currently sits 151st on the PGA Tour money list with earnings of $527,904 in 2022. With only 47 players to compete against next week, McDowell stands to earn $4m if he wins the tournament. Meanwhile, even finishing last should guarantee a payout of around $120,000.

Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.