Numerous reports say Justin Rose, Olympic Gold Medalist and ranked number one in the world until this week, will not have an endorsement contract with TaylorMade Golf after the current one expires at the end of the year. Rose is expected to move on to a deal with Japanese club maker Honma Golf.
Not mentioned is whether Rose or TMaG is making the decision. Last season Spanish star Sergio Garcia, Masters winner in 2017, left TaylorMade for Callaway Golf leaving a stable crowded with top players. In addition to Rose TMaG endorsers include Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Jon Rahm and of course Tiger Woods.
TaylorMade management could be looking to rein in endorsements as a cost cutting move. The owners, venture capital group KPS Capital Partners, and company management presumably understand the declining effect of player endorsement on equipment sales and with the other top stars under contract may be feeling Rose wasn’t needed.
Or Rose may be just chasing the bucks. He wouldn’t be the first top player to dump the tools that got him to the top.
From a playing perspective a club change by Rose is presumably doable, but should he also go to a different ball than the TaylorMade TP5 with which he has been so successful a larger problem could arise. The consensus is Tour players find it hard to change clubs but it’s almost out of the question to change both clubs and golf balls.
Honma is a premium-price Japanese brand listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange and making its presence known in the United States over the past two years with multiple equipment introductions. They hired industry veteran Mark King as a “strategic advisor” three months ago and King is thought to be running Honma though there has been no official announcement. King was CEO of TaylorMade Golf, then a division of adidas, for 15 years before leaving in 2014 to become president of Adidas Group North America. During his tenure at TMaG it became the dominant metalwoods manufacturer pioneering adjustable weighting of drivers.
Bridgestone Player Kuchar Wins in Mexico
Matt Kuchar took the Mayakoba Golf Classic by one shot over Danny Lee for his eighth tour win but the first since the 2014 RBC Heritage. His driver is the Bridgestone Tour B JGR and only in his bag for the past two tournaments. It has a 460cc clubhead with weighting for higher launch angles and a draw bias. Ball velocity is helped by combining a new Power Rib sole, which keeps the sole rigid through impact, with a Boost Wave crown which allows the crown to flex even more at impact.
The non-adjustable JGR is available in three lofts of 9.5°, 10.5° or 11.5° and sells for $400.
Among his accomplishments Kuchar won a Bronze Medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
In his bag for the Mayakoba victory:
Driver: Bridgestone Tour B JGR (9.5°) – Fujikura ATMOS Tour Spec 65 X shaft
Fairway Wood: Titleist TS2 (13.5°) – Fujikura Speeder Evolution 757X shaft
Hybrids: Bridgestone Tour B HD-X (18°) – Accra Tour Z shaft; Ping Anser (20°) – Fujikura Motore Speeder HB 8.8 Tour Spec X shaft
Irons: Bridgestone J15 Cavity Back (5-PW) – SteelFiber Aerotech shafts
Wedges: Bridgestone J40 Forged (52°) – SteelFiber Aerotech shaft, Cleveland RTX-4 (56°) – SteelFiber Aerotech shaft, Cleveland RTX-4 (62°) – KBS 610 Wedge 120S shaft
Putter: Bettinardi Kuchar Model 1 Arm Lock
Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X
In Case Anyone Should Ask:
Mayakoba Ball Count: Titleist again was top choice in this week’s PGA Tour event with 77 in the 132-man field using either a Pro V1 or Pro V1x versus 15 for Callaway Chrome Soft or Chrome Soft X.
Callaway Wins Driver Count: Mayakoba Golf Classic was special for a number of reasons but for those of us that follow happenings in the world of golf equipment it was the first time in several years Callaway drivers were the favorite with the largest number of drivers in play. TaylorMade most often holds the top spot. Thirty-three players used a Callaway driver with 30 of them being either the 2017 model Epic or this year’s Rogue.
Callaway’s Big Bertha Irons and Hybrids: New for 2019 easy to hit distance irons with what Callaway calls a Suspended Energy Core and 360 Face Cup. The Suspended Energy Core has a TPU-wrapped tungsten weight within urethane microsphere material. Eight-piece set $1,299 with steel shafts and $1,300 with graphite. Big Bertha Hybrids for the first time use their Jailbreak design which has two rods inside the head behind their Hyper Speed Cup Face. Lofts are adjustable with the OptiFit Host system. $269.99 each. Both Big Berta irons and hybrids will be in stores Jan.18.