According to several reports, World No.1 Justin Rose is set to leave TaylorMade and sign a new equipment deal with Honma.
Justin Rose, whose victory at the Turkish Airlines Open last week saw him regain his World No.1 status, is set to switch equipment manufacturers for the first time in his career.
It was reported earlier in the week by MorningRead.com, the Irish Times and The Sun that the FedEx Cup Champion will leave TaylorMade, who he has been with the entirety of his 20-year-career, and instead will put in play clubs from premium Japanese clubmakers Honma from next year.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,” Rose had said when asked if he would be changing equipment next year following his win on Sunday.
His contract with TaylorMade is set to end this year and will not be renewed, according to these reports, although this has not been confirmed by Rose, his agent, TaylorMade or Honma.
And while it hasn't yet been confirmed, the move would seemingly be a natural transition for Rose to make, given that several of the staff at Honma have previously worked for TaylorMade.
As reported by Golf Digest, Honma announced in August that Mark King - former TaylorMade president and CEO who worked with Rose for a number of years during his career - would be joining the company as a consultant.
Many former TaylorMade employees have joined him, 'including Jeff Letorneau as chief operating officer, as well as bringing in former TaylorMade executive vice president John Kawaja as a consultant. Tom Cismoski, who spent nearly 24 years at TaylorMade, is Honma’s senior vice president of sales in North America.'
The move of these former TaylorMade employees would see Rose in familiar company as he becomes the second long-standing staffer to have parted ways with the brand in the past two years after Masters Champion Sergio Garcia moved to Callaway at the start of 2018.
And yet despite the Olympic Champion's speculated departure, TaylorMade wouldn't be stuck for high-profile players without him. In the past few years they have signed Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, in addition to having both former World No.1s Jason Day and Dustin Johnson on their books.
Who are Honma Golf?
Honma are best known in the west for making bling, gold-plated drivers and irons which come with the sort of price tags only dotcom whiz kids or Russian oligarchs can afford. Yet they actually have a long history of producing beautiful and affordable forged irons, which can be traced all the way back to 1959.
The Japanese brand recently hired former TaylorMade CEO Mark King to make Honma as popular in the west as it is in Asia, and he has some ambitious plans to get some serious tour visibility in 2019.
Recruiting Justin Rose certainly would be one of those if it comes to fruition, and it's no surprise they've also launched a brand-new TWorld747range (part of the brand's Tour World range) for 2019 - and minus any massive price tags or gold detailing.
There's a genuine tech story being the new driver, which has a £559 RRP and comes in 455cc and 460cc sizes. There is, of course, matching fairways (from £309) and hybrids (frrom £269) to accomanpy the driver, but we reckon it's the two new irons which will have the biggest impact. Honma says the two TWorld 747 models (from £969 for a set of six irons) let golfers experience "artistry and premium performance'.