Sergio Garcia and TaylorMade have parted company, bringing to a close one of the most high-profile – and lucrative – player endorsements of the last decade.
The official statement from TaylorMade, which dropped into inboxes at 14.06, said simply:
“Today, after a memorable 15 year partnership with Sergio Garcia, we have mutually agreed on a release from the remaining years of his TaylorMade contract. It has been an honor to play a role in his performance throughout his career, including The PLAYERS Championship, 19 worldwide wins, Ryder Cup heroics and his 2017 Masters win. We congratulate Sergio on a career year and wish him all the best for the future."
There has been no word yet from Garcia.
Two questions are immediately raised by the news – why has it happened, and where might he go next.
The first can probably be attributed to TaylorMade’s buy-out by KPS Capital Partners in May. It’s no longer owned by adidas – Garcia’s biggest sponsor, and one brand with pockets deep enough to afford the popular Spaniard.
Without adidas backing, and a roster already including megastars (on mega money) like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, it’s likely TaylorMade just didn’t have the cash at hand to keep the newly-minted Masters champion on his own.
The second question will no doubt be answered soon, when Garcia has looked at all the offers coming in from rival brands – even though only a handful could afford him.
Callaway seems the most obvious choice, especially given that Garcia was photographed testing the firm’s Mack Daddy wedges and an Odyssey Toulon putter at the British Masters at Close House recently.
And as Phil Mickelson enters the twilight of his PGA Tour career, Callaway needs a major-winning superstar to carry the brand along with its host of young stars like Patrick Reed, Thomas Pieters and Daniel Berger. Of course Henrik Stenson is a major winner, but he doesn’t move the needle like Garcia.
Callaway also has a full 14-club range that Garcia could use – including the Chrome Soft ball currently played by Mickelson, along with a top-spec driver in the Epic and some beautiful irons (he’s currently using TaylorMade’s P750 irons).
And if Sergio remains with adidas – as seems likely – it would necessitate fewer zeros on the Callaway cheque.
But who else has a the seven-figure number that will be required to secure Sergio’s services?
Well of the current big brands on tour, Ping has no history of signing people at the top, preferring to pick players up when they’re young and keeping them. Likewise Titleist has no history of signing big names when they’ve become big. Others, like Cleveland/Srixon, Bridgestone and Mizuno don’t have the driver model that would benefit from one of the best drivers in the game using their club.
Another intriguing option would be PXG, owned by billionaire Bob Parsons. They’ve certainly got deep enough pockets, and some very clever products (Parsons is currently suing TaylorMade for patent infringement).