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Dustin Johnson in hot water with sponsor RBC amid Saudi-backed rival golf tour participation

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Dustin Johnson is the latest professional golfer to catch heat over his ties to the Saudi-backed rival golf tour, with sponsor RBC saying Tuesday it was “extremely disappointed” to learn that the two-time Major winner was included in the list of participants for the LIV Golf invitational Series opener in London next week. 

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), which sponsors the Heritage and the Canadian Open, released a statement seemingly hinting at the end of its partnership with Johnson after a list of participants was released on Tuesday that included Johnson – despite the PGA Tour saying last month that it would not be granting releases for its members. 

Dustin Johnson reacts to a missed putt during the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, June 26, 2021.

Dustin Johnson reacts to a missed putt during the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands, June 26, 2021.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“RBC is a proud partner of the PGA Tour. Our partnership is anchored with two world-class golf tournaments – the RBC Heritage and the RBC Canadian Open. The PGA Tour has been clear about its intentions in accordance with its tournament regulations should a golfer choose to play in a tournament outside the tour, including the LIV Golf Invitational Series.,” the statement, posted to social media, read. 

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“We were recently made aware that Dustin Johnson made the decision to play the LIV Golf Invitational Series opener. DJ has been a valued RBC team member since 2018. While we are extremely disappointed in his decision, we wish him well.”

The kicker is that the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open and the LIV Golf invitational Series opener conflict with one another. 

Dustin Johnson plays his shot during the final round of the RBC Heritage on June 21, 2020, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

Dustin Johnson plays his shot during the final round of the RBC Heritage on June 21, 2020, in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Johnson’s agent David Winkle said in a statement on Tuesday that the decision was based on what “was in his and his family’s best interest.” 

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“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, via golf insider Jason Sobel. 

“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.”

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The PGA Tour announced last month that it would not be granting players’ requests for release to compete in the rival LIV Golf Invitational. 

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks during a press conference prior to the Players Championship, on March 08, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan speaks during a press conference prior to the Players Championship, on March 08, 2022 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
(Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

“We have notified those who have applied that their request has been declined in accordance with the PGA Tour Tournament Regulations. As such, Tour members are not authorized to participate in the Saudi Golf League’s London event under our regulations,” a memo said.

“As a membership organization, we believe this decision is in the best interest of the PGA Tour and its players.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
 



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