Black Numbers -- and Black Clouds on the Horizon

By Adam BarrJuly 22, 2002, 4:00 pm
Positive numbers appeared on the income statements of two major golf companies last week. But the industry outlook cant be described the same way.
In the second quarter, Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY) was able to wring $138.5 million gross profit (a 4.2 percent increase over the comparable quarter last year) from sales of $252.2 million (a 1 percent drop from the second quarter of 2001).
For the same quarter, Acushnet Co., the unit of consumer product giant Fortune Brands (NYSE: FO) that includes Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra, posted $63.9 million operating profit (a 9.6 percent boost compared to last years second quarter) on sales of $334.7 million (an increase of 11.4 percent over the second quarter of 2001).
But Titleist recently laid off 290 employees in its golf ball operations due to a 'contrarian market,' said Wally Uihlein, Acushnets chief executive.
'The contraction of discretionary spending is going to continue at least through the back half of 2002,' Uihlein said. 'The Dow didnt get to 8,500 overnight, and it wont get back up that fast either.'
Inventory of golf balls at retail is higher now than is usual for this time of year, Uihlein said, so his company had to adjust its production run rates. That required the hard decision to let go the 290 workers, about the amount Acushnet hired in 2000 to ramp up for the increased demand created by the buzz about the companys Pro V1 model golf ball. Uihlein bit the bullet now rather than cause hardship around year-end holidays, he said.
Uihlein predicts a three percent contraction this year in the 50-million-dozen annual U.S. golf ball market. Acushnet now commands about 46 percent of that market.
Nonetheless, development for two or three ball models that had been planned for 2003 will continue, largely because in big companies such plans gather too much momentum to derail. Acushnet has decided not to attend the big industry trade show in Orlando next January; Uihlein plans to use that money to energize more closely targeted marketing programs ' and to fund stepped-up development of those 2003 models.
Callaway, which attributes its profitability during a sales drop to aggressive cost control, is also moving ahead with product and promotion plans. The company entered the value golf ball segment with the Warbird, a two-piece distance ball. The ball will have its own logo to distinguish it from Callaways higher-end models, but the packaging will remind customers that the balls are 'powered by Callaway.'
On the club side, new Callaway wedges by veteran designer Roger Cleveland will reach stores soon. Callaway will drop suggested retail prices on its ERC line of drivers and fairway woods, and for sales between now and Sept. 30, buyers of ERC clubs will receive a free dozen Callaway HX golf balls. The company plans to capitalize on the expected adoption of equipment regulations that will make high-coefficient of restitution drivers conforming between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2007.
Callaway officials predict sales of between $810 million and $820 million for the year, which would amount to about $1.02 per share. In 1997, Callaways best year, the company had sales of $842.9 million.
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Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

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Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

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Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.

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Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

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Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.


A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.