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Phil Mickelson added a TaylorMade SLDR driver to his bag for Day 2 of the Presidents Cup, where he and U.S. Team partner Keegan Bradley defeated the International Team’s Jason Day and Graham DeLaet in foresomes 4 and 3.

The SLDR has a (poorly) painted matte black crown to hide the SLDR’s metallic gray crown and light gray graphics, and marks Mickelson’s second attempted to conceal his usage of a TaylorMade metal wood.

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Harry Arnett, senior vice president of marketing for Callaway, confirmed on Twitter that the driver was not a Callaway model.

@danwmeyer not our driver ths wk. Our low/forward cg Tour driver isn’t ready yet so gave green light to play whatever he wanted until then

— Harry Arnett (@HarryArnettCG) October 4, 2013

Arnett’s tweet indicates that Callaway has an even lower spinning driver coming out in 2014, which is similar to a situation from last November when Mickelson used a TaylorMade RBZ 3 wood at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Championships in China.

At the time, the RBZ was also lower spinning than any comparable Callaway product, and Mickelson had the club painted matte black to hide its distinctive white-painted TaylorMade crown. As Arnett predicted, Mickelson benched the RBZ  as soon as the company released its X Hot 3Deep to tour players in April. Mickelson has had the 3Deep in the bag ever since, hitting it long enough to play it as his driver for his wins at the Scottish Open and the British Open.

Still, Mickelson’s usage of a TaylorMade driver is a huge win for TaylorMade, which has lost significant market share in the driver category in 2013.

“SLDR has been hot since it hit tour in July and we are flattered he is playing it,” a TaylorMade spokesperson said.

This year, Mickelson has experimented with several Callaway drivers, including the Razr Fit Xtreme, which he praised after his win of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February. At the Masters, Mickelson used a prototype “Phrankenwood,” a small-headed Callaway driver that Mickelson said offered a more penetrating ball flight and more workability than larger-sized drivers. In September, he tinkered with Callaway’s latest driver, the FT OptiForce 440, which he later ditched for his trusty 3Deep.

Mickelson also added a new 17-degree Ping Anser hybrid to his bag in 2013, which comes stock with a matte black-painted crown. Like the hybrid, Mickelson’s SLDR driver has a Mitsubishi Rayon Kuro Kage Silver shaft.

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Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com.

He's been a part of the company since 2012, when he was hired to develop GolfWRX's front page. Since that time, GolfWRX has become the go-to destination on the web for golf equipment news, tour news, instruction and opinion.

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He played college golf at the University of Richmond, where he took too many strokes. Good thing he also studied journalism and creative writing.

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81 COMMENTS

  1. The most amazing part of this story is that Phil would actually use that POS SLDR. Ugh, what a stupid, ugly club. But it will only be a couple of months before the SLDR is obsolete because TMAG will come out with something new. Their product life cycle is as long as the life of a fruit fly.

  2. This actually works really well for Callaway once he goes back to the Callaway driver.

    It makes it look like the SLDR improves Phil’s performance over his old driver, which makes his move back to Callaway seem more authentic, even if it is still sponsorship related.

  3. Did anyone notice ernie using a Titleist ball, even in his singles game? Maybe Callaway forgot to send their truck?

  4. Relax people. You are going to be shocked at what im about to tell you. TIGER WOODS DOES NOT DRIVE A BUICK!!!!! OHHH NOOO!!!

  5. Haha everybody sooking about phil have 2 clubs in his bag that are not Callaway has anybody seen whats in James Hahn bag 1 Callaway club in his bag !!

  6. i would dump phil from sponsorship. this is a big slap in the face to callaway. callaway invested millions and millions into the design of the their clubs. where is the loyalty? callaway drivers cannot be that bad.

  7. Loyalty? Lol. He didn’t sell government secrets. His loyalty is to himself and his family. He doesn’t play for callaway…. The sponsored him, they don’t own him. And if they dropped him he’d be on the full page ad for another company by the end of the week. Without callaway Phil is still all-world. Without Phil callaway is still extremely popular. But the relationship is mutually beneficial. Him using another company’s driver isn’t an issue of loyality.

  8. This is terrrible….It likes you work for M-Benz and they giving you a company car and then you guy buy a BMW.

  9. Phil Mickelson was very excited about the Callaway prototype he had been testing and contacted Callaway with a request to use their prototype 2014 tour driver this week. Callaway most have felt that it was not proper timing for any introduction or media coverage on the product. Phil was probably upset with the response he received and decided to play the SLDR which could possibly provide similar performance to the Callaway proto. Ie: forward cg and lower spin

    Clearly people can make assumptions on why the choice was made, but that is only known by the people privy to their conversations. I think Callaway looks at it in the way that Phil was just that excited about it and was upset about my being able to play it because he likes it so much. Only time can tell. Phil has and always will be able to tinker with whatever clubs he chooses and Callaway will continue to respect that. These opinions are only those of my own. We could all speculate on why these things happen. But let’s just let them play golf while we continue to do the same!!

    • From where I’m from, that sounds like a spoiled baby….But, I expect that from someone that’s rich like him….Now, all the Phil followers thinking of ways to say it’s ok..

      If Tiger had tried this, you guys would be eating this up.

      go figure!!!

    • This wouldn’t happen. If it was ready to play and he liked it, it’d be in his bag. They would just adjust the look of it and claim it was a current or older model.

  10. Let me hear this correctly…You pay a guy millions of dollars to use your clubs and he pays you back by using your #1 competitor equipment…That doesn’t sound right……My issue is loyality. Why did he even swing the TM driver in the first place to know it’s better what’s he’s playing..

    • Phil is trying to win tournaments. That’s all he is focused on. If Callaway doesn’t have a driver that he is looking for, Phil will find one that will work for him. Looks like Callaway is trying to catch up, but is a bit slow. And let’s face it, he did ask Callaway first. It’s not his fault that Callaway isn’t ready with a low spinning driver.

  11. Phil won The (British) Open this year. If Callaway cannot make a driver that makes Phil happy then it is their problem. He has been a loyal player and proponent of their equipment. I never like Eli Callaway anyway. Big pal of Clinton.

  12. I agree this is a bad deal for the marketing effort of Callaway. He is the biggest face of their brand. However I can’t help but think of all the TM bags in see pics of and the only TM club is the driver. Of course most of those bags are for lower level tour players.

  13. Michelson is a great player who needs great clubs, kudos to Callaway for giving him freedom. They create a great team!

  14. Guys seriously? Look at this from Phil’s shoes and then from Callaway’s shoes.

    Phil’s perspective: my job is to win golf tournaments. Period. I found something I feel give me a better chance at that and I’m going to use that.

    Look… I played other professional sports. Everyone wants an advantage (the using an older wedge with better grooves). If they rules allow you to do something and it helps you….. You do it. But even more important… Nobody wants to be at a disadvantage. If he hits the SLDR better and doesn’t bag it he is knowingly putting himself at a disadvantage.

    Callaways perspective: We have one of the very top golfers in the world promoting our stuff. Our 3 deep basically sold out because this guy winning the Brittish Open without a driver and every weekend warrior that struggles with driver wants it. Our market share on golf balls went from zero to top 5 in a matter of years and Phil’s publicity of hex black and hex chrome + was a big part. Our wedges are taken seriously because Phil uses them. LETS KEEP THIS GUY HAPPY AND ON THE PODIUM AFTER WINNING TOURNAMENTS.

    Look….. If some guy under contract finishing 54th wanted to change they would say “use all our stuff or we may pull your contract” try that with Phil….. Um nope. He’s been a great sponsor and people generally like him. And callaway gets more if he wins using mostly Callaway than if he gets 3rd with all callaway.

    Oh yeah, and the painting it so he likes the look….. Please be joking. Other than die hard forum and golf fans who will bicker about his driver, nobody will notice its a SLDR. Most people won’t even see it with the paint. The paint job is 100% about covering up he isn’t swinging a callaway driver. I’m sure it’s a compromise for using it and had nothing to do with the drivers aesthetics to Phil. It’s so the normal person watching sportscenter or the golf channel doesn’t say “hey isn’t that a sldr?”

    This is common practice and common sense in all pro sports.

    Also it says zero about callaway vs tm drivers. It says a lot about how those drivers fit one individual. If one driver was just head and shoulders better for everyone….. Guess what??? They would all use it. The SLDR just must fit him better. Or he just likes it. Either way everyone is just fine with this arrangement.

  15. Has anyone thought of the fact that it doesn’t really matter what Phil is using. To most people, if Phil is winning, he’s winning with Callaway. It’s that simple. He’s a brand ambassador for Callaway. Did anyone see his speech after The Open Championship victory. You didn’t hear him thanking the Ping, Taylormade or Titleist technicians for his victory did you (or which ever brands of clubs he was carrying that week)?

  16. Martin, you are not the ‘CEO’ so stop worrying about their books, im sure if you needed a computer to do your job youd dam well use one that worked, his job is winning he uses a ‘computer’ that works

  17. Also I was wondering why he had his rain cover on his bag in the pics from the range like he was trying to hide his clubs or something. I guess this is why. Fill it up.

  18. I thought this was a SLDR when I first seen him tee off on 1 today.. you can just tell from the shiny metallic face of the driver.. nice try fill

  19. Fellas, Callaway owns the patent to the SLDR….so you tell me who is copying who! The new driver will be one tour here in a few weeks…and that will give Phil all winter to work on it. Give the man a break!!!

    • You are ridiculous. If the technology was patented by Callaway why would Tm be allowed to produce equipment using it?
      Is there an ongoing lawsuit I don’t know about like apple vs Samsung? I didn’t know there is one. Thx for informing me. ;-)

  20. What happened to the Razr fit Xtreme? He raved about it after the Waste Management yet hasn’t used it since March? April? I like Callaway, but it’s not a good sign when Phil can’t play any of your drivers.

  21. People you are all forgetting what this really means. Better products for us consumers! If the pro’s actually had a choice outside their brands if it outperforms, then that means that the manufacturers need to make better clubs to keep pro’s playing them. Unfortunately this is just a lull in the Callaway pipeline leading to this, not something more permanent, and contracts would never be written that way.