Amid news that the PGA Tour is under investigation by the Department of Justice for anti-trust practices, Bridgestone ended its relationship with Bryson DeChambeau while Mastercard “paused” its sponsorships of Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell.
“The PGA Tour is an extremely important part of professional golf, and Bridgestone has a sports marketing relationship with this highly visible series of tournaments,” stated the company in a press release.
“In considering that Bryson DeChambeau will no longer be participating in these events, Bridgestone and Bryson have agreed to end their brand ambassador partnership.”
DeChambeau played the Bridgestone golf ball for the last few years and was marketed as the brand’s young star alongside the middle-aged Tiger Woods and senior player Fred Couples.
In a report at ESPN.com, Mastercard vice president of communications Seth Eisen said, “We have paused the activation of our relationship with Ian and Graeme, recognizing the uncertainties around their standing with the PGA Tour.”
Poulter has been with the credit card company since 2009, with McDowell on board since 2011.
A source close to the situation emailed this space and posits the PGA Tour as the force behind both decisions.
“The only sponsors cutting off relationships with LIV golfers are brands that are in bed with the PGA Tour, such as Mastercard, RBC, Workday, Rocket Mortgage and Bridgestone,” wrote the source.
“Look at Bridgestone for example. They say, “Bryson DeChambeau will no longer be participating in these events” – Hello! Their big event is the Bridgestone Senior PLAYERS. It’s a tournament on the Champions (senior) Tour. Bryson is 28 and has 22 years to go before he’s 50.
“Plus, notice they are making these announcements during the week of The Open to peak-level embarrass the players, while also claiming to not want drama (eye roll).
“What does that tell you!? The Tour is using mob-like tactics to damage a players’ brand. The investigation by the DOJ is going to be so simple to find anti-trust violations.”
For the record, Bridgestone (Bridgestone Senior PLAYERS), RBC (RBC Heritage and RBC Canadian Open) and Rocket Mortgage (Rocket Mortgage Classic) are title sponsors of PGA Tour events, while Mastercard (Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard, The Open Championship) and Workday (Memorial Tournament Presented by Workday) are presenting tournament sponsors.
UPDATE: Bryson DeChambeau pretty much confirmed this accusation by saying he “loves” Bridgestone and will “hopefully continue to work with them.”
“I love them. I love what they do,” said DeChambeau after his opening round at The 150th Open. “I still will hopefully continue to have conversation with the R & D team all the time.
“I’ve given them five or six different little things that have helped improve the golf ball. And hopefully will continue to do so.”
When asked if he was surprised by the announcement, he said, “No. I respect it and understand everybody’s position and the ties that everybody has. I respect it.”
This post was updated by editor to remove adjectives, describing the Bridgestone and Mastercard brands.