'Acushnet Company has reached a mutual business decision with Ernie Els to release him from his equipment contract effective immediately,' the company said in a statement.
Els had one year left on his deal with Acushnet -- Titleist clubs, ball and glove, FootJoy shoes -- and the split was said to amicable. He is believed to be going to Callaway, although spokeswoman Michele Szynal said Callaway does not have a deal with the world's No. 6 player.
Titleist had invested in Els, Adam Scott and Davis Love III, and its Cobra lineup includes U.S. Open champion Geoff Ogilvy. Els turns 38 this year, and it was not clear if Titleist would have re-signed him for what Els might have wanted. This might free up Titleist to pursue more younger players, especially after Lucas Glover left this year for Nike.
Titleist let Phil Mickelson out of his contract early in 2004, and he signed with Callaway. If Els goes the same route, they will have one thing in common -- a separate corporate deal on the hat, the most visible logo to TV viewership.