DeChambeau Goes to LIV Golf, Rocket Mortgage Ends Sponsorship -

DeChambeau Goes to LIV Golf, Rocket Mortgage Ends Sponsorship

Bryson De Chambeau tees it up at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic. // Photo by Tim Keenan
Bryson De Chambeau tees it up at the 2021 Rocket Mortgage Classic. // Photo by Tim Keenan

When Bryson DeChambeau teed off at the LIV Golf event in England last Thursday, Rocket Mortgage ended its sponsorship of the big-hitting pro golfer.

By committing to play in the new Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series, which is promoting an event at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster in New Jersey the same weekend (July 26-31) as the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, DeChambeau would be unable to fulfill the requirements of his sponsorship deal.

“As has been widely reported, Bryson elected to join the LIV Golf Series,” said Aaron Emerson, a Rocket Mortgage spokesman, in a statement. “Effectively immediately, Rocket Mortgage has ended its sponsorship agreement with Bryson. We wish him well in his future success.”

DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic at Detroit Golf Club in 2020 and signed a sponsor deal with Rocket Mortgage the following year. Rickie Fowler also is a Rocket Mortgage brand ambassador who is rumored to be interested in joining the LIV Golf tour.

Rocket Mortgage has not commented on its deal with Fowler, who has been the face of the Detroit tournament since its launch in 2019 and a television pitchman for the company.

The LIV Golf Series, which has attracted notable players such as Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Lee Westwood, and metro Detroit’s own 2021 U.S. Amateur champion James Piot, is backed by Saudi Arabia’s unlimited sovereign-wealth fund and offers high-profile players large signing bonuses and guaranteed checks of $120,000 to the last-place finisher at each event. Mickelson is reported to have been paid $200 million to join LIV Golf.

Mickelson, Garcia, Johnson, and others cited above teed it up in the LIV Golf event at the Centurion Club in Hertfordshire, England outside London, last weekend and were suspended by the PGA Tour. Charl Scheartzel won the tournament and brought home a record golf purse of $4.75 million.

It also appears that Rocket Mortgage has picked a side in the case.

“Rocket Mortgage has been a long-time supporter of the PGA Tour, both through our role as an official partner and as a tournament host,” Emerson’s statement said. “The Rocket Mortgage Classic has quickly become a fixture on the Tour, with players coming to Detroit to compete, while also raising crucial funds to help bridge the digital divide in our city.”

LIV Golf also offers players fewer dates (eight in 2022), shorter tournaments with no cuts (56 holes vs. 72 holes hence the LIV Roman numerals for 56), and faster rounds by employing shotgun starts.

The PGA Tour offers stability and tradition with the backing of most PGA Tour regulars and legendary stars like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. It also doesn’t have the human rights baggage that the Saudi-backed LIV Golf organization carries and is brought up in most every LIV Golf player press conference.

The struggle has huge financial implications for both individual players and the game’s dominant institutions, according to The Wall Street Journal. LIV Golf is luring players by offering huge purses and undisclosed appearance fees that are potentially transformational for their personal financial futures. And by attracting many big-name players so quickly, the new circuit threatens to undercut the PGA Tour’s lucrative, decades-long dominance of the sport.

“It’s troubling that the Tour, an organization dedicated to creating opportunities for golfers to play the game, is the entity blocking golfers from playing,” said LIV Golf in a statement following the suspensions of its 17 PGA Tour players. “The era of free agency is beginning as we are proud to have a full field of players joining us in London, and beyond.”

Legendary South African golfer Gary Player, when asked to comment by Sky News, said: “Golf is a wonderful game, and we must never forget this. The heart of the game is the amateur, not the professional. What saddens me is to see the fighting that’s going on, and it’s unnecessary.

“Remember this, the players that are playing there now, they need the money. They’ve got families, and I don’t blame them for playing there. There are not a lot of them that can win on the regular tour anymore, so they’re wisely taking the money.”

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