Report: Mastercard pauses business relationships with LIV players Ian Poulter, Graeme McDowell

Mastercard has distanced itself from brand ambassadors Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell of the LIV Golf Series, Sports Business Journal has reported.

Mastercard senior vice president of communications Seth Eisen confirmed to SBJ on Friday that the company’s relationship with Poulter and McDowell has been paused in recognition of uncertainties involving their participation on the PGA Tour, which has suspended the pair and numerous others after they jumped to rival LIV Golf. (McDowell relinquished his PGA Tour card shortly before the first LIV event near London.)

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The SBJ story mentioned that Poulter had signed an endorsement deal with Mastercard in 2009, and McDowell joined the brand in 2011.

Poulter did not wear the Mastercard logo on his shirt in last week’s LIV event in Oregon, but the logo was back on his collar in the opening rounds of this week’s Genesis Scottish Open, co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour. He also wore a logo for Stanley Black & Decker, with whom Poulter signed a contract in early 2022. Both of those logos were present on Poulter’s attire in Friday’s second round in Scotland, as were logos for Titleist and FootJoy, watchmaker Audemars Piguet, membership program Aurae Lifestyle and private airplane company NetJets.

In Scotland, Poulter also wore the logo for his LIV team, the Majesticks.

2022 JP McManus Pro-Am
2022 JP McManus Pro-Am

Graeme McDowell watches his drive at the 10th tee during the 2022 JP McManus Pro-Am earlier this week at Adare Manor in Limerick, Ireland. (Photo: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)


McDowell, meanwhile, already had been dropped by another financial sponsor. Royal Bank of Canada dumped the former U.S. Open winner after he announced he would jump to LIV while not appearing at the RBC Canadian Open.

Poulter along with fellow LIV players Adrian Otaegui of Spain and Justin Harding of South Africa won a court-ordered temporary injunction that allowed them to play in the Scottish Open after being banned from the event by the DP World Tour, formerly the European Tour. Harding opened the Scottish Open with a 65 before faltering with a 74 in the second round.

SBJ did not indicate how long the “pause” between Mastercard and the two players might last or what mitigating factors might unpause the relations.

Poulter and McDowell are not the first players to lose deals or see sponsorships paused since announcing plans to join LIV Golf. Phil Mickelson, who also signed to play with LIV, has seen several business relationships cancelled or paused since dropping out of PGA Tour play. Most notably, longtime sponsor Callaway announced it was pausing its relationship with Mickelson in February, and last year’s PGA Championship winner has not been seen in any of his traditional logos in LIV events.