PGA Tour 2022, LIV Golf, Saudi Golf League, news: Dustin Johnson dumped by RBC, players, punishment, Phil Mickelson

Consequences from the decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series are swiftly being felt for the PGA Tour’s defectors, led by former world No.1 Dustin Johnson.

Consequences from the decision to join the Saudi-backed LIV Golf Invitational Series are swiftly being felt for the PGA Tour’s defectors, led by former world No.1 Dustin Johnson.

The Royal Bank of Canada ended its sponsorship of golfers Johnson and Graeme McDowell on Wednesday after they were included in the field for the first event in England on June 9.

Meanwhile, the PGA Tour has doubled down on its stance to bar its members from playing in the event, reiterating that they will be up for disciplinary action.

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The opening 54-hole tournament starts the same day that the RBC Canadian Open begins in Toronto.

A day after the RBC Open issued a statement saying officials were “extremely disappointed” Johnson had made the decision to play the LIV circuit, RBC itself confirmed it had severed ties with both Johnson and 2010 US Open winner McDowell of Northern Ireland.

“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,” RBC said in the statement.

“We wish them well in their future endeavours.”

The Telegraph in the UK reports that LIV Golf paid Johnson “around” £100 million — or about $174 million — to join the series.

RBC isn’t the first sponsor to drop golfers over LIV Golf.

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International shipping company UPS dropped England’s Lee Westwood last month and six-time major winner Phil Mickelson lost a string of sponsors after his comments in February on the controversial tour and its Saudi financial backers

RBC’s move came as the US PGA Tour confirmed that it would pursue disciplinary action against tour members who play in the money-spinning LIV series without authorisation.

“As communicated to our entire membership on May 10, PGA TOUR members have not been authorised to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event, under PGA TOUR Tournament Regulations,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.

“Members who violate the Tournament Regulations are subject to disciplinary action.”

The statement did not provide any information on what sanctions the rebel golfers playing in LIV events might face.

In the past, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has warned that anyone joining a rival venture could be excluded from Tour events and face a possible lifetime ban.

ESPN reported on Wednesday that Monahan had been in talks with several player agents on the sidelines of this week’s Memorial Tournament in Ohio on Wednesday with a simple message that players would not be allowed to play both LIV and PGA Tour events.

Whether or not players will also be excluded from competing in the four majors, and Ryder and Presidents Cups, is one of the biggest remaining questions.

Augusta National, the USGA and R&A have previously issued statements supporting the PGA and European tours, although didn’t address if defectors would be able to play in the three majors the host.

Meanwhile, the PGA of America was clear that anyone who joined a rival league could not play in the PGA Championship or Ryder Cup.

“If someone wants to play on a Ryder Cup for the U.S., they’re going to need to be a member of the PGA of America, and they get that membership through being a member of the [PGA] Tour,” CEO Seth Waugh said last year.

“I believe the Europeans feel the same way, and so I don’t know that we can be more clear than that. It’s a little murkier in our championship, but to play, from a U.S. perspective, you also have to be a member of the tour and the PGA of America to play in our championship, and we don’t see that changing.”

Waugh reiterated that stance at this year’s PGA Championship, calling LIV Golf’s model “flawed” and slamming it as “not good for the game”.

Other potential consequences are related to the reputations of those who play on the LIV Golf circuit.

Given its funding by the Saudi Arabian government, those who defect are accused of being complicit in sportswashing.

Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee said: “These players will forever be tarnished by their willingness to help launder the appalling human rights record of the men behind LIV Golf.”

While two-time major winner Johnson was the biggest name revealed on Tuesday, other players included two-time major winner Martin Kaymer, and major champions Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen and Graeme McDowell.

European Ryder Cup stars Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood were also named in the field.

Originally published as Sponsors dump ‘forever tarnished’ golf rebels — and it’s just the tip of the iceberg

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