A tough year for Jim Furyk just got tougher with news that one of his primary sponsors, 5-Hour Energy, has been linked to 13 deaths over the last four years, according to a New York Times report.
The report said that the highly caffeinated supplement has been cited in about 90 filings with the Food and Drug Administration, "including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion." The report also said that since the investigation is ongoing, those filings do not necessarily mean that 5-Hour Energy is "responsible for a death or an injury or contributed in any way to it."
Furyk, who has a multiyear deal with 5-Hour Energy that began in 2012, was traveling Thursday and unavailable for comment, but his agent, Andrew Witlieb, seemed relatively unfazed by the report.
"Do I like seeing these type of articles? Of course not," Witlieb said in a telephone interview. "But they're not going to find anything conclusive. If there were people dying from this, there would have been lawsuits by now."
Witlieb said he planned to speak with 5-Hour Energy executives on Thursday afternoon, but he did not anticipate the investigation compromising Furyk's relationship with the company.
Witlieb would not reveal how much his client is paid to endorse the supplement, but he did say, "Lord knows this deal was out there for everyone." According to Witlieb, the company also considered signing Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, or Gary Woodland, but settled on Furyk because of his "family-man" persona.
"It's not marketed as a 'party drink,' " Witlieb said. "They're targeting 30- to 45-year-old businessmen."
Furyk himself regularly takes the supplement, especially before his workouts, Witlieb says. The liquid is sold in 2-ounce containers and contains up to twice as much caffeine as an 8-ounce cup of coffee, according to a Consumer Reports article cited in the Times story.
Witlieb also takes 5-Hour Energy. He said he has "boxes of it" in his office and that colleagues will frequently drop by for a mid-afternoon jolt.