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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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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Honda Classic



GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Honda Classic at PGA National’s Champion course (par 70: 7,110 yards) in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

The field this week is stacked at the top, and it includes defending-champion Rickie Fowler, 2017 FedEx Champion Justin Thomas, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy, and reigning Masters champion Sergio Garcia, who’s making his first PGA Tour start of 2018. Also in the field is Tiger Woods, who committed to play in the event just last week. Woods is coming off a disappointing missed cut at the 2018 Genesis Open.

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Tour Rundown: Bubba is back (from near retirement)



The California cruise on the PGA Tour came to an end at Riviera, as it always does. Tiger Woods played poorly over the George Thomas classic, as he always does. Oh, and Bubba Watson showed why he is not in the ranks of ballers Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland. Big wins were earned from Australia to Florida, by 22 year olds and 41 year youngs. Our tour rundown runs gathers results from five unique tours, and breaks each triumph down for you. Have a glance at this week’s Tour Rundown.

Watson returns to form with third Genesis Open win

There are too many ledes to unearth for this one: Horses for courses or Mercurial Watson, or how about My wife’s the hoops star, I’m the golfer? Whatever was in that Tracy McGrady rejection on Friday night was the medicine Bubba Watson needed to return to the winner’s circle. Along the way, Watson schooled the 20-somethings (and even the other Lefty) on how to close the deal in Hogan’s Alley.

How Watson came back from near-retirement

While the siren song of the candy store, car dealership and baseball team might have been strong, Bubba Watson wanted to be a champion golfer again. After nine, up-and-down holes (3 birdies and 2 bogeys) on Sunday, Watson was looking up at Patrick Cantlay, Kevin Na and even Phil Mickelson. Not to worry, as the Florida portsider had played the inward half under par all week. Watson closed with 3 birdies and 0 bogeys over his final 9 holes, sealing a 2-stroke win over Na and Tony Finau.

See the clubs Bubba used to win the 2018 Genesis Open

How a quartet missed out

Let’s summarize: Na played the back side in 1-under par and needed Watson’s 3-under for a playoff; Tony Finau was 2-under on the closing half, but needed double that for extra holes; Phil Mickelson bogeyed 15 and 16 when he knew that birdies were needed; Patrick Cantlay played 1 over in his final 9, when 2-under would have meant playoff. All the also-rans and almost-weres didn’t do what Watson did: close the deal.

Jin Young Ko secures Australian Open on LPGA Tour

It’s a stretch to call Jin Young Ko an LPGA player, as her first 9 wins came on the LPGA of Korea tour. In October and now in February, Ko bested world-class fields to win co-sanctioned events, and is now a two-time LPGA champion. At this rate, it might be difficult for her to remain tethered to the Korean tour.

How Ko won the week

A 7-under 65 on Thursday was the fuel Ko needed to take a lead that she would not relinquish. Although Katherine Kirk matched that number on Sunday, no one was able to wrest the advantage from the 22-year old Ko. Two rounds of 69 and one of 71 brought her to 14-under on the week. On day four, Ko started quickly with two opening birdies. A pair of bogeys on the outward half kept her within sight of the field, but birdies at 9, 13 and 17 were the recipe for re-establishing her three-shot margin of victory.

How she kept the field at bay

The challenging Kooyoonga golf club was not very free with low rounds this week. Ko’s compatriot Hyejin Choi, posted a flawless 67 on Sunday to move up one spot, into solo second at 11-under. In third and fourth were a pair of Australians, Hannah Green at 10-under and the aforementioned Katherine Kirk, at 9-under. Marina Alex was the low USA golfer at 7-under, tied for fifth spot with Minjee Lee.

Oman Open on European Tour

Joost Luiten began the fourth day at Oman in a three-way tie for first spot, but asserted himself early on Sunday with birdies on holes 2 through 4. It was enough to separate from the field, and he was able to hold off Chris Wood to earn his 8th European Tour title, by two strokes.

How Luiten claimed victory

After the fiery beginning, Luiten cooled off in the later stages of the opening nine holes. Bogeys at 7 and 8 brought him back to the field, but he wasn’t done for the afternoon. Luiten birdied 12 and 13, then added the clincher on a tricky birdie putt on the 16th hole. That final birdie gave him a 2-shot separation on Chris Wood, and he held on for pars at the final two holes for a 68 on the day and 16-under for the tournament.

How Wood and others came up shy

Matthew Southgate and Julien Guerrier began Sunday in a tie with Luiten, but the day turned sour early for Southgate. The Englishman had four bogeys in a five-hole stretch. Two more miscues on the inward half dropped him into a three-way tie for ninth at 9-under par. Guerrier held the wheel a bit steadier: two bogeys at the turn were offset by three birdies coming in, and the young Frenchman was able to coax a solo third-place finish out of the week. It was Chris Wood who gave the greatest chase to Luiten. Wood had four birdies on the day, and was in a tie at the top at 15-under, when he yanked a drive at 17 and found a hazard. Although he was able to play his ball, the ensuing bogey was the mistake he could not afford. A par at the last placed him at 14-under, one shot clear of Guerrier and two behind the champion.

Durant welcomes second PGA Tour Champions title at Chubb Classic

Technically, it’s his third, but the first was a two-man win with Billy Andrade. Durant probably caught wind that Billy Mayfair and Tim Petrovic were going super-low (8-under on Sunday) and that David Toms was at their heels (7-under on the day.) Each of those three earned a top-four finish, but Durant took matters into his own hands over the closing seven holes. He left Naples as the 2018 Chubb champion.

When Joe Durant woke up

Durant was 1-over through 7 holes on Sunday, headed in the wrong direction. Birdies on 8 and 9 reminded him that he still had a chance, but the eagle on 13 kicked his game into a higher gear. Birdies at 14, 17 and 18 were enough to offset a bogey at 15, and Durant cruised home with a four-stroke victory over Mayfair, Toms, Petrovic, Lee Janzen and Steve Stricker.

How that quintet fell away

After eight birdies through 14 holes on day 3, Mayfair had zero over his closing four. Toms did the opposite-He played the outward half in 2-under, but came home in 5-under to reach the podium. Petrovic had 4 birdies on each half, but also simply ran out of holes. Janzen threw an early scare into the eventual champion, but two bogeys and not enough chirps were his undoing. Stricker’s finish was the most painful. Within site of Durant and needing birdie at the last for 18-under, Stricker was forced to go for the flag, and instead got wet. His double-bogey finish dropped him from solo second to the five-way tie.

Daniel Fox surprises at Australian PGA championship

Daniel Fox had one previous victory on the Australasian circuit, but he made the most of opportunity’s knock on Sunday. The 41-year old played error-free golf over his final 14 holes, counting 6 birdies for a one-stroke victory over Matthew Millar and Steven Jeffress.

How Fox found the winner’s platform

Fox might say he was the last man standing, and none would argue. The runners-up had chances at birdie at the final hole, but neither one could convert. Fox counted three rounds of 65 and one of 67 on his card.  On the week, he had three bogeys and one double, against 21 birdies and one eagle. In an event where the margin ‘twixt victory and not-victory was razor-thin, Daniel Fox shaved the final whisker.

How Millar and Jeffress came up short

The easy answer would be: they didn’t birdie the 72nd hole. Jeffress had the low round (63) of the week, but his 67-67-66 lost ground on the other three days! As for Millar, one might point to his last two, outward nines. On both weekend days, he made nine consecutive pars to open his round. Against a par of 33, it wasn’t bad, but he gained no ground on the leader. Millar’s stat line for the week read: one eagle, 21 birdies, six bogeys. Yup, nearly identical to Fox, but nearly is the operative word.

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Tiger Woods fires second-round 76, will miss Genesis Open cut



Tiger Woods’ trip to Los Angeles is over sooner than he’d hoped. Woods fired a 5-over 76 during the second round of the Genesis Open to miss the presumed cut at Riviera by four strokes (the second round won’t be completed until Saturday morning due to darkness).

Hopes were high Woods would continue to build on a T-23 finish at the Farmers Insurance Open. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as the driving woes that plagued him at Torrey Pines followed him to the Riv, despite changing shafts in his TaylorMade M3.


Wayward off the tee, Woods made eight bogeys Friday, unable to grind out a decent score as he did with his opening-round 1-over 72. He was unable to rely on his putter the way did in this first round, three-putting back-to-back holes (No. 11 and 12). A stretch of three straight bogeys sunk Woods’ hopes of hanging around for the weekend.


We won’t have to wait long to see the Big Cat back in action, however, as Woods committed to next week’s Honda Classic at PGA National in Florida. Woods most recently put a peg in the ground at the course in 2014, where he ultimately withdrew due to back spasms.

The 79-time PGA Tour winner hasn’t teed it in back-to-back weeks since 2015, so while fans may not be encouraged by his play, at least he continues to be free from any issues with his surgically repaired back.

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19th Hole