Ernie Els inked a deal with RBC last week and now is telling the press that he’s also changing his schedule. Who’s to blame? According to a lot of headlines, it is RBC. “New Sponsor drives change in Els’ global schedule,” reads the headline on MSNBC.
Part of that schedule change involves cutting out the Scottish Open, which Els had typically used as a precursor to the British Open, and adding the Canadian Open.
In what is surely an odd story, Doug Ferguson at AP writes about Els’ decision:
Ernie Els has reached a point in his career where he will not be travelling as far and making decisions based as much on his business ventures as golf itself.
One of the first tournaments to go is the Scottish Open, which he has won twice and played the last nine years.
Els signed an endorsement deal with the Royal Bank of Canada, the title sponsor of the Canadian Open. The third-oldest national championship in golf falls at an awkward time in the PGA Tour schedule — one week after the British Open, two weeks before the start of a gruelling stretch that includes a World Golf Championship, the PGA Championship and four FedEx Cup playoff events. The Big Easy said he would be there.
“Yes, but I’m changing it up,” he said. “I’m not going to play the Scottish Open.”
While it is surely a good thing for Els to be in Canada for the event, I don’t think I can recall an endorsement deal that was so openly linked to having a golfer show up at a tournament. It was always clear that Tiger Woods would play in GM’s touranments, for example, but I don’t think Woods ever came out and said he was playing because of the event’s sponsor.