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Ernie Els to TaylorMade? Big Easy tries new equipment in Asia



At the Presidents Cup earlier this month, Ernie Els was spotted playing a Titleist golf ball, a departure from the Callaway HEX Black Tour he’s teed up for the past few years. The Callaway staffer also played the Titleist ProV1X at the Venetian Macau Open last week and changed things up this week at the CIMB Classic by playing a TaylorMade Lethal golf ball.

Most top-tier professional golfers have gone on equipment-testing binges at some point in their careers, particularly when they’re struggling, as Els did in 2013. The 44-year-old, who signed with Callaway in 2007, notched only one top-10 finish on the PGA Tour last season (a T4 finish at the U.S. Open at Merion in June).

But when players of Els’ stature make such changes, it’s usually to the much more fluid part of their golf bags: their clubs. Players experiment less with the golf ball, which is considered one of the most difficult equipment changes for a professional golfer to make because of its use on every shot.

Does Els’ recent use of a Titleist and TaylorMade golf ball and UST’s Mamiya Recoil graphite iron shafts mean that the four-time major championship winner is looking for a new equipment sponsor in 2014?

Click here to see all the clubs in Ernie Els’ bag.

Callaway’s list of recent signings on the PGA Tour includes Ryo Ishikawa, Patrick Reed (who defected to Callaway mid-season), Nicolas Colsaerts, James Hahn, Chris Kirk, Luke List, Bobby Gates and Sang-Moon Bae. Jim Furyk and Phil Mickelson represent the big ticket at Callaway, and with the exception of Els’ surprising 2012 British Open victory, they have attracted much more attention to the brand. Each had seven top-10 finishes in 2013, with Mickelson capturing the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the Scottish Open and the British Open.

Under the leadership of Chip Brewer, Callaway appears to be casting a wide net among young talent rather than trying to land marquee players. Were Ernie Els to make the move to TaylorMade, which sponsored him early in his career, he’d likely be earning more, as the multi-billion dollar conglomerate member has deeper pockets than Callaway.

Ernie Els 1997 U.S. Open

Ernie Els won the 1997 U.S. Open and the 2002 British Open as a member of TaylorMade’s Tour Staff.

Last year, Callaway reported sales of $832 million. TaylorMade’s number was more than twice that amount, $1.7 billion. Surely, socking away some additional cash in his final years as a member of the PGA Tour would please the South African, and TaylorMade—financially able to do so—would likely be happy to have another major championship threat on its staff.

Dropping Els makes sense for Callaway too, as the company could surely sign several young players for the price the 2012 Open Champion commands, and doing so would be more in line with the brand’s move toward a younger, edgier image.

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    Dec 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    I simply needed to say thanks for posting this. You’re right on.|

  2. stephenf

    Oct 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    I didn’t see this on a quick scan through the article, but didn’t Ernie play TMs at one point early in his career? I’m thinking it was somewhere around ’97 and/or before, because I was thinking he was playing some modified form of the Burners at the U.S. Open that year.

  3. Jonathan Steinmann

    Oct 31, 2013 at 9:45 am

    At EE’s age, he should get the best cash in town. He still has one of the best swings in golf, so it comes down to putting. With the recent rules change with belly/long putters, finding a biggest cash in the biz (TM), sounds like a great idea. Plus, he likes a soft golf ball, and there is no ball better than the Lethal for that. Seems like a good fit.

  4. cg

    Oct 30, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    there is so little difference between the top balls, I bet if you didn’t put a label on them, the players could not tell the difference. It is usually about the money. In fact, the 2nd line of balls are now so good, any pro would probably also win with them…and some are using the next ball down.

    • Ryan

      Oct 30, 2013 at 8:31 pm

      Really? Are you telling me the top players cannot tell the difference? You so crazy.

      • Harvey

        Oct 31, 2013 at 8:46 am

        Cg is right, most of them are made in the same factory!

        • Seb D

          Nov 6, 2013 at 8:07 pm

          Holy Crap that was off…
          Same factory??? Please do explain using actual examples …

      • stephenf

        Oct 31, 2013 at 5:32 pm

        They couldn’t tell the difference with anything close to perfect accuracy on feel alone, no (although you’d have to go beyond labels — dimple patterns, etc., give it away). The differences in performance are mostly imperceptible. You do get much more important differences in clubs, both because of appearance (a player’s confidence or feeling of expectation is critical — he’ll swing it differently if it’s not there) and actual differences in playing characteristics.

    • Percolito

      Nov 12, 2013 at 6:15 pm

      cg – you are so wrong. Go talk about something you know something about. You know nothing about Pro’s and golf balls.

  5. jgpl001

    Oct 30, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    In his prime Ernie could have win a major with a shovel and a tennis ball. I saw him at the practice ground in Troon in approx 2005 and he was crushing 7 irons better than your life time best 3 iron with absolutely no effort (a stunning lesson in compressing the ball). However, old age, concentration and a big dip in putting (the curse of being 40+) has caught up with him. i know he won the British open recently, but it was more Adam Scott imploded! At this stage an equipment change might be good for him. I am not a TM fan, but if it works for him go for it. He still likes a traditional type blade/muscleback and TM don’t have anything like this in the line-up at the moment. The new Speedblade things are shocking and I couldn’t see him bagging them, but let’s wait and see…….stranger things have happened

    • Freddy v.

      Oct 30, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Taylormade has new tour preferred line coming. New MB, CB which look stunning! Cb with speed pocket as well.

  6. Lars

    Oct 30, 2013 at 2:12 am

    Gary Woodland is also a Callaway staffer

  7. Truth

    Oct 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Els won the BMW International Open in 2013.

    Just because its not the PGA tour, does not discount his win.

    • maxl

      Oct 31, 2013 at 8:50 am

      He won that tournament against sergio, dustin, kaymer and other top players

    • Percolito

      Nov 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      Ernie Els won the BMW International Open the week after US Open, against a field of European Ryder Cup players … The ones that kicked the bud on the PGA Tour players … No need to ignore the European Tour. It’s strong enough to hold its own …

  8. Doron

    Oct 29, 2013 at 4:58 am

    You seem to forget the current Fedex Champion, Henrik Stenson is also a Callaway staffer. Being a massive EE fan from his home country of SA and having personally benefited from all the work he has done for autism, I want to see the big man start to win on a regular basis again. I could care less what equipment he plays.
    A move to TM, Adams, Titleist or anyone else might make him a few extra dollars but it isn’t going to improve his putting which is what is costing him.

    • M.Coz

      Oct 30, 2013 at 4:11 pm

      Since when is Stenson a Callaway Staffer? Did he sign on with them in the past couple of weeks?? I believe he is playing a mixed bag with more Callaway clubs, but he has been playing TM driver, Piretti putter (and golf bag!) Titleist ball(?). These are three areas key areas for Callaway staffers more important than utilities, wedges and previously FW woods. The irons he plays are not models that can be regularly purchased.

      • Jack

        Oct 31, 2013 at 9:49 am

        You mean not regularly available for purchase if you live in the US. They are readily available in Asia and Europe (where he’s based in).

  9. Kevin M

    Oct 28, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    Ernie needs to what is best for him and his family first and foremost. He struggled last year and hasn’t been playing to his standards then he should switch if contract allows him. Whatever works best for him!

  10. M.Coz

    Oct 28, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    It actually would make sense Internationally for Adams to have EE on staff. Plus they would let him play a mixed bag which would be a good transition for him. Building Adams business internationally is a big play with huge potential. The growth of that brand has been substantial already and TMAG has already made that purchase pay off. Plus despite the “doom and gloomers” initial comments, the brand has not imploded but rather exploded and the new equipment that has been viewed early shows great promise for all types of players. As much as the “Haters” don’t like to see this the brand has a big upside. EE would be a very nice addition, we’ll see. I may do a little investigation on this . . .

    • Jack Nash

      Oct 30, 2013 at 4:40 pm

      I believe TM bought Adams to forgo the lawsuit that was being brought forward because they snatched Adams slot technology.

      • Freddy v.

        Oct 30, 2013 at 4:58 pm

        Rumors…board of directors at Adams voted not to sue…

      • M.Coz

        Oct 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

        That lawsuit rumor was not factual. The Adams purchase was a smart business purchase at a very good price that was set to pay for itself by just putting the brand into their international distribution channels. The purchase price was alittle over $70 mil for an upcoming company with little baggage, good product, a crack design and R&D team. A lawsuit for what people think could have only been for 6 figures or low 7 figures. In these deals a big company like TMAG can easily outspend a small company like Adams who was for sale. Trust me I hate to bust anyones bubble, there is very little justice when it comes to these types of suits, the money wins. But the differences in the slot technology of the two companies actually was different and the percentages of differences allowed is not that high. The combining of two excellent design teams is pretty powerful. Actually it allows TM to lose a key design guy to another company (Cobra/Puma) without any great pain. The one departing cannot take any technology TM has been working on over to the Cobra. Any attempt to do so would result in a huge lawsuit and everyone would know about it, you would need to whisper about rumors. That is where you see the battles.

  11. Frank

    Oct 28, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    If Ernie signs With TMAG it will be under the Adams banner. That would be the best move for both.

  12. Bob

    Oct 28, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    My call…. Ernie and Phil both to TM. That’s all…..

  13. Dave

    Oct 28, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Maybe he is just testing balls to help Callaway develop their new ball

  14. tyler

    Oct 28, 2013 at 11:12 am

    I think signing younger talent is the way to go. Callaway needs to appeal more to a younger age group. I am in the 25 to 35 age group. Neither myself or any of my friends plays anything Callaway. I always see the forty and fifty somethings gaming Callaway(no offense)

    • Tedesco

      Oct 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Callaway is old and busted, just like me… 43 year old that loves Callaway. I even have a tatoo of the Callaway Logo and PHIL!

      • Jack Nash

        Oct 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        If you’re quick enough and watch the Long Drivers on GC tonite you’ll see Callaway ain’t busted.

    • kw dubb

      Oct 30, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Hahaha, you must be closer to the 25 year old mark cause if you’re even close to 30 you would know Cally is the bizzz nesss.

    • thefullsp

      Nov 3, 2013 at 9:42 am

      No offence taken. I’m 40 and play Cally Razr X Musclebacks because with all my experience and demonic short game, I need to make the game harder so I don’t take the 20-something’s beer money every week 😉

      BTW If you want an awesome driving iron I suggest the Cally X-Proto 21 degree with GDesign shaft. BOOM!

  15. Nick

    Oct 28, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Callaway has only 1 young player, Gary Woodland

    • Jacob

      Oct 28, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Sang-Moon Bae, Ryo Ishikawa, Colt Knost, Patrick Reed and Luke List are all under 30, which I would consider a young player.

      • Jesse

        Oct 28, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        And do you ever see these players contending on a regular basis?

        • Steve

          Oct 28, 2013 at 6:16 pm

          What’s your point? They clearly have more than one young player. If he said they have one relevant player, he could have an argument.

        • Harvey

          Oct 31, 2013 at 8:56 am

          There are other countries in the world! European tour has a lot of young players on Callaway equipment who are in the top 100 in the world.. Callaway haven’t got the marketing but sure bring out some great gear, better than the TM rubbish. Non of the TM staffers use off the rack gear anyway

  16. froneputt

    Oct 28, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Ernie has lost a lot of his luster. It makes sense for Callaway to allow him to sign with someone else and find a higher profile right hander with a conventional swing.

    Note to Callaway: I turn away from the TV or close my eyes when Furyk swings – get another right-hander to complement him.

    • Andrew

      Oct 28, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      ya so ugly to watch him hit 13/14 fairways and 18 greens and shoot 59 the thought makes me cringe every time haha.

  17. drez

    Oct 28, 2013 at 9:57 am

    since when is callaway young and edgy? especially compared to taylormade? callaway has been the choice of grandpas for a long time. taylormade has the youngest, most progressive image among golf companies.

    • J

      Oct 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      TM has the most progressive image….

      I would say Cobra/Puma has them beat in that particular department.

      Just in the appeal to youth, probably nothing else. Although I’d play Cobra ACP’s over anything TM came out with this year. Just because TM didn’t release a blade.

    • cg

      Oct 30, 2013 at 7:11 pm

      but the taylor made guys seem to come and go rather quickly…fowler, dustin johnson, sean ohair….all the guys that did the rocket balz commercials…what did they do last year?
      I think Ping is getting a lot of the guys I saw winning last year with their G25 woods. titleist still has the most players using their ball.

      • Jack

        Oct 31, 2013 at 9:58 am

        Fowler is Puma/Cobra. But yeah, golf is a tough game. Not many players are able to win multiple times.

  18. neil

    Oct 28, 2013 at 9:55 am

    see next year.

    Callaways on a roll.TM same old muliple product roll outs customers catching on to the Marketing Bs

    Buy Callway Sell TM

    • Steve

      Oct 28, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Because Callaway doesn’t have multiple product rollouts or anything right?

      Yeah, okay…

      • TJ

        Oct 29, 2013 at 10:47 am

        Good catch. but the taylormade roll-outs if you don’t like the price wait a couple weeks and they will drop their prices. As far as an equipment standpoint but companies are coming out with some products that would probably help out the every day player. both have a supper hot iron that goes for ever a little to far for my liking (bigger gaps). both also have a great wood set not huge on the drivers I believe Ping has them beat in this department but the woods are longer than anything that I have tested. if callaway would allow for custom orders for the frankenwood I would be on board with that and ditch the driver.

        Last thing is since the discussion has been brought up about young and edgy what about Ping and underarmor through I really don’t know if they are affiliated.

    • SN

      Oct 29, 2013 at 5:56 am

      If that (Marketing, aka, BS) works (and as TM sales doubled Cally), why not?
      It’s sad but true for this market. Just embrace it and enjoy your golf game.

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Tour News

5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open



Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills



GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).


Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings



We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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19th Hole