Els Moves to Callaway

By Adam BarrMarch 1, 2007, 5:00 pm
Ernie Els, the No. 6 player in golf's world rankings, has agreed to a multi-year equipment endorsement deal with Callaway Golf just days after leaving a four-year relationship with Titleist.
 
Callaway announced the deal as Els began first round play in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand with a Callaway FT-5 driver, an HX Tour 56 golf ball and a new Callaway bag. Callaway and Els will work on fitting him with the metalwoods, irons, wedges and putter that best suit his game. The driver has 8.5 degrees of loft and aneutral face bias, and Els got comfortable with it in just two days of trial, said a company official.
 
Ernie ElsThe eventual switch to an Odyssey putter (Odyssey is a Callaway business unit) is definite, said the Callaway official. As for irons and wedges, Els will work with legendary Callaway club designer Roger Cleveland, who has known Els for more than 17 years.
 
Els will continue to wear the hat with SAP logo on front, but the Callaway logo appears on the sides and back of his cap.
 
Although it was reported in some quarters that Callaway bought out Els agreement with Titleist, Callaway officials said that's not true.
 
The parties didn't disclose specific terms of the deal. Els, 37, has won three major championships: the 1994 and 1997 U.S. Opens and the Open Championship in 2002. He joined the PGA Tour in 1994; the U.S. Open at Oakmont that year was the first of his 15 PGA Tour wins. Els has won 43 times in international events, plus four times in team tournaments, always with fellow South Africans David Frost and Retief Goosen.
 
Els didn't win in 2006. But he did manage eight Top 10 finishes in the wake of a 2005 surgery needed beause of a knee injury sustained while sailing in the Mediterranean.
 
Whenever a Top 10 player's equipment deal is in play, the rumor mill heats up. For a few days this week, the uncertainty as to where Els would land generated more heat than light.
 
Depending on who you asked Tuesday, Els was 1) ending his four-year equipment endorsement deal with Titleist, 2) signing with Callaway, 3) negotiating with Callaway but still seen wearing a Titleist hat, or 4) some version of all of the above.
 
But when Els teed off Thursday in Thailand, his equipment situation became clear. A few days earlier, Titleist had issued a brief statement saying Els and the company had agreed to part ways immediately, and thanking Els for his services.
 
But on Tuesday, a Callaway official said no deal had been signed with Els, and there was no announcement to make, at least for the moment. The same executive wouldnt comment on how negotiations were progressing, or even if they were happening at all ' thats Callaway company policy.
 
Titleist officials did not extend comment past the confines of their brief statement, and Els and his agent either did not return calls or could not be reached. So the reasons for Els departure remain unclear. Tour players move for many reasons, including shifting economic goals and fortunes within the companies they endorse. David Toms left Cleveland Golf and started with TaylorMade this year; Lucas Glover went from Titleist to Nike as the new season began. And, of course, sometimes player economics, not company decisions, impel a move.
 
Recent Titleist history confirms that although it is not afraid to use the courts or mediation to protect its brand and contract rights, in the end it doesnt insist on keeping around anyone who is determined to change. Tiger Woods began with Titleist equipment, but went to Nike in 1999 (he already had a shoe and clothing deal with the company). David Duval left in 2001 for the same destination. Phil Mickelson parted with Titleist in 2004 to move to Callaway. Titleists tour staff, although replete with solid stars, has always had more of a team feel ' no one player predominates; the whole staff advances the brand. Davis Love III may be better known than, say, Bill Haas ' but Titleist doesnt market its players in a way that shows overt preference.
 
Now that Els has signed with Callaway, the squad feel could increase there as well. The staff already includes Mickelson, recent Nissan Open winner Charles Howell III, and Annika Sorenstam, as well as Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. It will be interesting to see how it helps the company that pioneered big, easy-to-hit drivers (with 1991s Big Bertha) to get its hands on The Big Easy.
 
Els short-term schedule includes the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill and the WGC-CA Championship at Doral on the PGA Tour, plus the Tavistock Cup in Orlando.
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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.