July 5, 2022

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Lee Westwood loses longtime partner UPS amid ties to Saudi-backed rival golf league

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Lee Westwood and longtime sponsor UPS have parted ways after 14 years following the golfer’s request for release to play in the controversial Saudi Arabia-backed rival league, according to a report. 

A UPS spokesperson told Sports Illustrated in an article published Wednesday that the shipping giant’s move to drop Westwood was a “strategic business decision” but did not mention the golfer’s recent ties to the LIV Golf Invitational series in Britain next month. 

Lee Westwood of England and caddie Helen Storey walk during a practice round prior to the start of the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club May 18, 2022, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 
(Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

“We value the relationship we’ve had but make decisions based on what is best for our business,” the spokesperson told the outlet. “We will continue to focus on sponsorship initiatives that are important for UPS and consistent with our business priorities.

“The decision to end our partnership is a strategic business decision that allows us to focus on other initiatives. We maintain alternative sponsorships across other sports as well as cultural, philanthropic and sustainability-led initiatives to support our brand and meet the needs of our business.”

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Lee Westwood of England plays his second shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry May 6, 2022, in Sutton Coldfield, England. 
(Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The two-time PGA Tour champion also confirmed the news to the outlet but declined to comment on the reason for UPS’s decision to drop him.  

“I feel fortunate to have been with UPS for 14 years. Such a great company,” he said.

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Earlier this month, Westwood requested a release from both the European Tour and the PGA Tour to compete in the $25 million Saudi-funded event at Centurion Club from June 9-11.

England’s Lee Westwood tees off on the 2nd hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates Jan. 19, 2020. 
(AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

He previously said his desire to play is due in large part to the purse. 

“This is my job. I do this for money. It’s not the only reason for doing it,” Westwood said. “But if anybody comes along and gives any of us a chance at a pay rise, then you have to seriously consider it, don’t you?”

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The PGA Tour announced last week it would not grant releases, and the European Tour said it will review each request on a case-by-case basis. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.