Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell Have Mastercard Sponsorships Halted After LIV Move

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2022

NORTH BERWICK, SCOTLAND - JULY 08: Ian Poulter during day two of the Genesis Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club, on July 08, 2022, in North Berwick, Scotland. (Photo by Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images)
Paul Devlin/SNS Group via Getty Images

Mastercard announced Saturday that it paused its endorsement deals with Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell after the golfers left the PGA Tour for LIV Golf.

According to ESPN's Tom VanHaaren, Mastercard vice president of communications Seth Eisen released a statement, saying: "We have paused the activation of our relationship with Ian and Graeme, recognizing the uncertainties around their standing with the PGA Tour."

VanHaaren noted that Poulter has partnered with Mastercard since 2009, while McDowell has been with the company since 2011.

LIV Golf is financially backed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund.

The country has a history of human rights violations, and a U.S. intelligence report determined that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman approved the operation that killed Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

Saudi Arabia has been accused of "sportswashing," which is the act of using sports to deflect from a poor reputation in other areas, such as human rights.

In addition to the formation of LIV Golf, Saudi Arabia has hosted several major sporting events, including boxing matches, a Formula One race and WWE pay-per-views.

Mastercard is the latest in a long line of companies to suspend or pull its partnerships from golfers who signed with LIV Golf.

Per VanHaaren, Rocket Mortgage suspended Bryson DeChambeau's endorsement deal; RBC moved on from McDowell and Dustin Johnson; and WorkDay, KPMG and Amstel ended their relationships with Phil Mickelson.

The 46-year-old Poulter has long been one of the top English golfers, earning three PGA Tour wins and 10 victories on the European Tour.

Poulter has never won a major, but he has finished sixth or better in each of the Masters, PGA Championship and Open Championship.

McDowell, a 42-year-old native of Northern Ireland, has won four PGA Tour events and 11 European Tour tournaments, and he was the 2010 U.S. Open champion.