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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 Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday at the Zurich Classic



GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana, were, among other things, a giant three-legged crocodile roams.

Now in it’s second year, the tournament’s unique two-man team format has attracted a wealth of top talent, including 10 of the top 14 golfers in the OWGR. We’re on the scene snapping bag pictures, and have WITB looks at Matt Jones and Roberto Diaz, in addition to a general gallery from the TPC Louisiana range.

Let’s dig in.

Matt Jones doesn’t need his name embroidered on his headcovers: tape and a marker will do just fine, thanks

Last week, Faaaabel the Goat. This week, someone who would eat Faaabel

Roberto Diaz: Brand agnostic

Wesley Bryan’s Taco Bell(t) lives

Homemade putting aid or soon to be seen on a Golf Channel infomercial (or both)?

UDI with a side of lead

Shaft bags: Assemble!

Roberto Diaz Fourteen RM wedge

What more do you need in life?

A bouquet of Circle T putter covers

Check out our photos from Monday below!

Monday’s Galleries

Special Galleries

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

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Zurich Classic



GolfWRX is live from the 2018 Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana (par 72; 7,425 yards), designed by Pete Dye with consultants Steve Elkington and Kelly Gibson.

The Zurich Classic is a unique event on the PGA Tour because it’s not an individual stroke-play event. Instead, the format consists of two-man teams playing best-ball on Thursday and Saturday, and alternate-shot on Friday and Sunday.

Last year, Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt won the event after four playoff holes against Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown. The Smith/Blixt duo will be back to defend their title, and the Kisner/Brown pairing will be back avenging their loss.

Other notable pairings in the field include Daniel Berger/Gary Woodland, Wesley Bryan/Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed/Patrick Cantlay, John Daly/Rory Sabbatini, Jason Day/Ryan Ruffels, David Duval/Jim Furyk, Tony Finau/Daniel Summerhays, Sergio Garcia/Rafa Cabrera Bello, J.B. Holmes/Brand Snedeker, Matt Kuchar/Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen/Charl Schwartzel, Sean O’Hair/Jimmy Walker, Pat Perez/Jason Dufner, Justin Rose/Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth/Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas/Bud Cauley and more!

Check out our photos from the event below!

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

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Tour News

Tour Rundown: Moriya Jutanugarn and Andrew Landry win their first titles



It was a week of firsts on two of the world’s major professional tours. Moriya Jutanugarn claimed her first LPGA title in an impressive manner, while 2016 U.S. Open surprise Andrew Landry seized control in Houston to inscribe his name on the winner’s trophy for an initial time. Elsewhere, a pair of underdogs upset the favorites at the Champions Tour’s Missouri affair, while two veterans added additional titles to their resumes in Europe and on the Web.Com tour. It’s an interesting brew in this week’s cauldron, so let’s give it a stir and see what we taste in this week’s Tour Rundown.

Landry holds off resurgent trio to claim Houston Open

Andrew Landry led that U.S. Open at Oakmont after day one, and hung around the top of the leader board until the fourth day. When his name resurfaced at this week’s Tour stop, few were certain he could hold off a resurgent Zach Johnson, the two-time major winner. Well, few other than Zach Johnson thought Landry might pull it off.

How Landry locked in

From the 10th hole on Friday, through the same hole on Sunday, Landry made zero bogeys. He had 13 birdies in that stretch, on a course that gives a few up, but not in buckets. That 36 hole run of brilliance, including birdies on Sunday’s first three holes, staked Landry to an advantage that he would not relinquish. For the entire week, only four bogeys dotted his scorecards, and two of those came on Thursday. Landry’s putter was hot all week, and his driving game was laser-accurate. The sum total: welcome to the winner’s circle, Mr. Landry.

Click here to see the clubs Landry used to win the 2018 Valero Texas Open

Who made a run?

It wasn’t Johnson. Iowa’s favorite son hasn’t won since the 2015 British Open, although his game has shown its old fire of late. Johnson couldn’t find a groove on day 4, making as many bogeys in that round as Landry did all week. In the end, Johnson had a top-5 finish, amid signs that another victory may not be far in the offing. Sean O’Hair had the low round (66) of the day, and that magic was enough to boost him to a second-place tie with young Trey Mullinax, who followed a Saturday 62 with a notable 69 to rock steady. Jimmy Walker, finally recovered from a bout of illness, had the day’s 2nd-lowest score of 67, and he moved all the way to 4th spot.

Mighty Moriya holds off Korean trio for first tour title

Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand has been close before. She has seen little sister Ariya hoist victory awards before. On Sunday, it was her turn. Jutanugarn and Marina Alex were two of the leader with no title to their credit, heading into the closing 18 holes. While the key to victory still eludes the young American, it was Jutanugarn’s turn to triumph.

What Moriya discovered on Sunday

Actually, she dug deepest on Saturday. The older sibling opened round three with a double bogey, stood 3-over on the day after six holes, and appeared to be sinking. The ship’s wheel steadied with two birdies and hole-out eagle coming home, and then it began the final day with four birdies and no bogeys in the first 15 holes. A late bogey served only to add faux drama, as Jutanugarn calmly closed the deal for victory the first.

Park, Young and Yeon can’t win this case

Reading a bit like a law firm, Inbee Park, Jin Young Ko and So Yeon Ryu made their runs at Moriya. Inbee had a bogey at the turn, and needed perfection on Sunday. She didn’t get it, so a tie for second was in the offing. Ko might have had the best opportunity at day’s start, but a 2-over outward nine took her too far off pace for a 3-under inward half, to provide recovery. She also came second, at 10-under. Ryu put an opening bogey behind with four birdies through 12 holes, but could not go deeper over the closing stretch. Her fourth-place finish was her best of 2018.

Levy wins for third consecutive year on European Tour

France’s Alexander Levy nearly has a five-year win streak. His first two tour titles came in 2014. He skipped 2015, but hasn’t missed in the subsequent years. His work in Morocco this week added up to a one-shot win over a literal blast from the past, Spain’s Alvaro Quiros. Eight golfers finished within three strokes of the top spot, adding drama to the finish at Royal Dar-Es-Salaam.

Nothing spectacular leads Levy to win

There were no great streaks of brilliance, no runs of multiple birdies, for the 28-year old. All that he did, efficiently, was make enough birdies to stay ahead of his pursuers. After bogey at the antepenultimate hole on Sunday, Levy responded with a dart at the par-three 17th, to re-establish his lead. The win was the fifth of his career.

See the clubs Levy used to win

Oh so close for Oh so many

Let’s begin with Quiros. The Spaniard, compared with Dustin Johnson (for his length off the tee) in his early years, has been adrift. Sunday was his best chance in forever to secure a tour title. His first 16 holes were a tangle of bogeys and a pair of birdies. The Iberian closed admirably, with birdies at the final pair, to claim solo second, one back of Levy. Also close were Mikko Illonen (tied for third with three others at 7-under) and England’s Andy Sullivan, one more back at 6-under, in a tie for seventh.

Two more for the road: Axley wins on Web, while Broadhurst/Triplett claim Legends

Eric Axley would have preferred to win his 3rd professional event in glorious fashion. He’ll take a rain-shortened title at the North Mississippi Classic, his second career Web.Com title and his first title of any sort in 12 years. Waaaay back in 2006, Axley won the very same Houston Open (see above) contested this week on the PGA Tour, and a bit of success was predicted for the left-hander. Success, as we know, doesn’t come to all hands, and Axley was able to birdie his final two holes on Saturday to stake a one-shot advantage. Tied for second were the USA’s Willy Wilcox, Columbia’s Sebastian Munoz, and Korea’s K.H. Lee.

Triplett and Broadhurst birdie 1st playoff hole for victory

The rules for the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf are slightly simpler than those of field hockey, which means that they aren’t very simple. Both courses in use boast par-3 holes alone, but each has a different number of holes, so numbers on the scoreboard are meaningless. With the two Spaniards (Olazabal and Jimenez), the defending champs (Franco and Singh) and two major champions (Lehman and Langer) in the mix, the undervalued pairing of Kirk Triplett (he of the hat) and Paul Broadhurst (he of the …) were not anyone’s favorites to emerge. And here we are.

No one seemed bent on making any heroic moves on Sunday, so it came down to which teams would find their way. Lehman/Langer joined the eventual winners at the 9th hole. Triplett played the hole to perfection: tee shot into bunker, bunker shot into hole, thank you very much. No birdie putts were holed, and the title belonged to the unlikely pairing of Kirk and Paul.

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19th Hole