Golf’s transfer season is hotting up: The biggest movers and shakers so far
It’s not just football where the men in suits are getting the cheques books out and talking silly money. Golf isn’t immune to a bit of wheeling and dealing, with dozens of players moving between rival brands and giving their bag and wardrobe a refresh ever year. With this in mind, we’ve been busy scouring the driving range in the US and Middle East to see who’s conformed to the ‘new year, new me’ look for 2018…
In the biggest move of the year so far, Masters champ Sergio Garcia has joined Callaway has inked a multi-year equipment deal with Callaway, ending his 15-year partnership with TaylorMade. The Spaniard has since put the Rogue woods, Apex MB irons, Mack Daddy 4 wedges, Odyssey Toulon Azalea putter and Chrome Soft X ball in play, and broke them in with victory at the Singapore Open. He is one of a number of players who have “gone Rogue” on the PGA Tour for the first time, including Rookie of the Year Xander Schauffele and Players champ Si Woo Kim. The brand’s presence has also been extended on the European Tour, with Renato Paratore, Anirban Lahiri and Chase Koepka – brother of Brooks – using Callaway clubs and an Odyssey putter.
Ok, so he hasn't got an agreement with them, but there's a good chance Tommy Fleetwood might reconsider after he put TaylorMade's M3 driver in his bag for the first time at the Abu Dhabi Championship... and won. Fellow free agent Patrick Reed did likewise, and is back using Nike irons after leaving Callaway at the end of 2017. On the apparel side, Sergio and Schauffele remain three-stripe ambassadors, while Scottish young gun Connor Syme will be donning adidas gear from head-to-toe.
He finished T2 at last year's US Open, but it’s almost slipped under the radar that Brian Harman has swapped adidas and TaylorMade for FootJoy and Titleist. The two-time PGA Tour winner has opted for FJ shoes and a full bag of Titleist clubs for 2018, rather than a mixed one containing TaylorMade woods like last year.
After 36% of Tour pros admitted in an anonymous survey* that they would play Mizuno clubs in the absence of sponsorship money, Oliver Fisher, Jorge Campillo and Eddie Pepperell have got the best of both worlds by getting paid to use the clubs for the 2018 season. Jason Dufner has also been spotted playing with JPX 900 Tour irons, but remains an equipment free agent after cutting ties with Titleist. However, one man who has ended his association with Mizuno is Englishman Chris Wood.
The clubs are no more, but the swoosh will feature on even more players’ shirts and shoes in 2018. Reed is one of five players who’ll be wearing Nike head-to-toe, including Chris Wood, Alex Noren and rookies Cameron Champ and Jimmy Stanger. Si Woo Kim and Lee Westwood round out their new line-up as footwear-only endorsees.
PING AND CLEVELAND/SRIXON
Ping has agreed a club and bag deal with Tony Finau, KJ Choi and RSM Classic champion Austin Cook for the 2018 season, and signed several European Tour young guns, most notably Matt Wallace and Connor Syme. Andy Sullivan’s contract has also been extended to include apparel. Staying in the fashion world, Peter Millar have added a ton of players, led by Open history-maker Branden Grace. The list also includes Si Woo Kim, Matteo Manassero and Hudson Swafford, who has signed an equipment deal with Callaway. To offset the loss of Tyrrell Hatton to adidas, J.Lindeberg has unveiled Wallace and Jonas Blixt as its newest clothing ambassadors. On the equipment front, Francesco Molinari, Haotong Li and Fred Couples have been announced as the newest members of Team Bettinardi, while Grayson Murray has joined Cleveland/Srixon and J.J. Henry has become the first pro to endorse the new-look Ben Hogan brand.
*Survey conducted by our sister magazine, Golf World.