Accounting giant KPMG and Phil Mickelson ended their relationship Tuesday, following the golfer’s comments published last week regarding Saudi Arabia and a new golf super league. Later in the day, another Mickelson sponsor, Amstel Light beer, also terminated its partnership. On Friday Workday announced it would not renew its deal with Mickelson, which is set to expire in March, and Callaway Golf, which has sponsored the six-time major winner since 2004, announced it would “pause” its relationship with the World Golf Hall of Fame member.
“KPMG U.S. and Phil Mickelson have mutually agreed to end our sponsorship effective immediately,” said KPMG’s company-issued statement. “We wish him the best.”
A spokesman for Amstel parent Heineken told Sportico on Tuesday night: “We made the decision to go our separate ways and end Amstel Light’s partnership with Phil Mickelson. We wish him all the best.”
“Callaway does not condone Phil Mickelson’s comments and we were very disappointed in his choice of words – they in no way reflect our values or what we stand for as a company,” the company said in a statement. “Phil has since apologized and we know he regrets how he handled recent events. We recognize his desire to take some time away from the game and respect that decision. At this time, we have agreed to pause our partnership and will re-evaluate our ongoing relationship at a later date.”
The partings come on the heels of Alan Shipnuck revealing comments Mickelson made to the longtime golf scribe ahead of his unauthorized biography set for publication in the spring.
“We know they killed (Washington Post columnist Jamal) Khashoggi and have a horrible record on human rights,” Mickelson told Shipnuck. “They execute people over there for being gay. Knowing all of this, why would I even consider it? Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reshape how the PGA Tour operates.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Mickelson posted a long statement on social media attempting to explain his discussions with LIV Golf Investments, which is launching a new tour backed by Saudi Arabian money with Greg Norman as the front man. Mickelson addressed his sponsors about the desire to not “compromise them or their business in any way.” He gave all his sponsors the right to pause or end their relationship. KPMG, which has multiple offices in Saudi Arabia, was the first to pull the plug. It ends a relationship that dates to 2008.
Mickelson’s other sponsors include Workday, Callaway, Rolex, Mizzen + Main, Intrepid Financial Partners, VistaJet and Melin, according to his website. Sportico contacted all of them about whether they would continue their relationship with Mickelson but only heard from KPMG by press time, and later from Amstel Light.
KPMG remains a significant sponsor in golf with brand ambassadors on the PGA Tour and LPGA Tour. It is also the title sponsor of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
At $46.1 million, Mickelson ranked No. 21 in Sportico’s 2021 look at the world’s highest-paid athletes. The tally included $42 million from sponsors, appearance fees and bonuses, following his surprise PGA Championship in May. Only Tiger Woods ($62.2 million) earned more among golfers.
Mickelson has long been a highly sought-after pitchman, and he revealed that he won the PGA Tour’s inaugural Player Impact Program title in 2021 that carried an $8 million bonus. He has earned more than $1 billion on and off the course, adjusted for inflation. Mickelson was poised to continue to make huge sums from sponsors, as his on-course career wound down, similar to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. But his recent comments will almost certainly put a massive dent in those future earnings.
(This article has been updated in the headline and the first four paragraphs to include he news about Amstel Light, Workday and Callaway.)