Rory McIlroy – Titleist (Clubs) & Oakley (Apparel) to Nike (Everything)
Rory McIlroy signed a huge deal with Nike Golf, reportedly for a minimum of $200 million. Oakley filed a lawsuit in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif, against McIlroy and Nike. The lawsuit claims Oakley attempted to use its “right of first refusal” to equal Nike’s offer, but the counter offer was ignored by McIlroy and his agent Conor Ridge. Oakley is claiming the damage McIlroy caused by refusing to renew his contract is “irreparable”. Oakley believes its company should be granted an injunction that would block McIlroy and Nike from finalizing the deal. McIlroy will more than likely be playing Nike clubs and wearing Nike apparel when he makes his 2013 season debut at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, January 17th.
Ryo Ishikawa – Yonex to Callaway
This move may not seem substantial to many golf fans in the United States, but this will be a huge boost for Callaway Golf. Ishikawa is just 21 years old and is the most popular Japanese golfer in the world. Ishikawa will be a huge boost for Callaway especially in Japan and the rest of the Asian market. Yonex reportedly spent over 1 Million USD to develop and perfect its Ezone 380cc driver for Ishikawa.
Nick Watney – Titleist (clubs) and Hugo Boss (apparel) to Nike.
This is bad news for Titleist, losing one of their top young American ambassadors. Watney is ranked 20th in the Official World Golf Ranking and won twice in 2012. Watney won on the PGA Tour at The Barclays and won at the CIMB Classic, an event co-sanctioned by the Asian Tour and the PGA Tour. Watney is primed to have another successful season in 2013, and could contend at the majors.
Nicolas Colsaerts – Titleist/Callaway to Callaway
Not a major transition for Colsaerets, who already plays a Callaway driver and Callaway irons.Colsaerts contract with Callaway is non-exclusive and for just one year. He will continue to play the Titleist ProV1x golf ball, which he has played the majority of his career. He will now be wearing the Callaway logo on his hat and use a Callaway golf bag.Great pickup for Callaway, as Colsaerts has become a big draw for both European and American fans. Dubbed the “Belgian Bomber” or “Muscles from Brussels” Colsaerts gained lots of notoriety from being in contention in the U.S. Open, and his immaculate play in the Ryder Cup. Colsaerts will playing 19 event on the PGA Tour in 2013. Colsaerts says he prefers American golf courses over European golf courses.
Kyle Stanley – Titleist (Clubs) Dunning (Apparel) to Nike (Clubs & Apparel)
Titleist loses another promising young American. Stanley won once on the PGA Tour in 2012 at the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale. The week before, Stanley suffered a 72nd hole collapse at the Farmers Insurance Open. Stanley made a triple-bogey on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines, then lost in a playoff to Brandt Snedeker. Having the fortitude to comeback and win the next week shows the tremendous talent Stanley has. Stanley is another great addition to the Nike Golf staff for 2013.
Lucas Glover – Nike (everything) to TaylorMade-Adidas Golf
Risky pickup for TMaG. Glover is a major champion (2009 U.S. Open) and has 3 career PGA Tour victories. 2012 was by far Glover’s worst year as a full-time member on the PGA Tour. Glover suffered a right-knee injury, forcing him to miss 10-weeks. Glover only made 5/16 cuts all season, and missed cuts at all four majors. Glover has dropped to 259 in the Official World Golf Ranking. It will be interesting to see if he can have a better 2013 season while on TMaG staff.
Seung-yul Noh – Titleist (clubs) to Callaway (clubs)
At just 21 years old, Noh is one of the most talented young golfers from the recent crop of South Koreans emerging on the PGA Tour. At just 20 years old, Noh was the #1 golfer on the Asian Tour. Noh’s swing instructor, Butch Harmon said Noh is one of the most talented young players he has seen since Tiger Woods. Callaway’s signing of Noh, like Ryo Ishikawa will help them tap into the Asia golf market. It seems as if Callaway’s new strategy is signing talented young international golfers and bombers.
Gary Woodland – Titleist (clubs) to Callaway (clubs)
Callaway’s signing of Gary Woodland adds to a long list of Callaway staff members who are long drivers. Other Callaway staffers who bomb the ball include: Alvaro Quiros, Phil Mickelson, and J.B. Holmes. Woodland has one career PGA Tour victory, the 2011 Transitions Championship.
Stewart Cink – Nike to TaylorMade-Adidas Golf / Mixed Bag
TMaG picks up a major champion in Cink. According to Cink’s Twitter account he is playing:
TaylorMade R11S 10.5º KuroKage shaft; RBZ 15º Aldila RIP shaft; Ping i20 irons X100 shaft; Titleist Vokey wedges 52º, 57º, 62º; TM Ghost putter, ProV1 ball. Cink also posted this picture of his new bag:
(pic via Stewart Cink’s Twitter @stewartcink)
David Duval – Mixed Bag to Nike
Once again David Duval is back to using Nike equipment. Duval has been playing many different brands of clubs including TaylorMade, Titleist, Scratch, Cobra, Fourteen, Bridgestone, Callaway, TourEdge, B.I.G., (pretty much every OEM). Nike already knows what to expect as they have had Duval on their staff before.
Chris Kirk has one career PGA Tour win, the 2011 Viking Classic. Kirk is currently 115th in the Official World Golf Ranking. Kirk posted 3 top-10 finishes in 2012. Kirk played very solid toward the end of 2012 PGA Tour season, making his last 12 cuts. It will be interesting to see if Kirk can continue that momentum in 2013.
Robert Rock – Titleist/Mixed Bag to Taylormade
Robert Rock has two career victories on the European Tour. He won the 2012 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, a field that included Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. In 2012 Titleist was Rock’s bag sponsor, however he played a mixed set of clubs that included Callaway irons, Taylormade driver, and Cleveland wedges. Rock is a great addition for Taylormade and their European staff.
Ryan Moore – Adams/Mixed Bag to Taylormade
Not surprising as Taylormade now owns Adams Golf. Moore has experimented and played many different brands of clubs throughout his career. Moore has played Ping, Scratch, and most recently Adams. This move comes as no big surprise since Taylormade acquired Adams Golf in March of 2012.
John Huh – Ping to Taylormade
The 22 year old Huh was the 2012 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Huh won his first career PGA Tour event in 2012 at the Mayakoba Classic, beating Robert Allenby in a 8-hole playoff. I expect Huh to have another solid season in 2013. Huh is a great addition to the Taylormade staff.
Andres Gonzales – Adams to Callaway
Callaway signs yet another big hitter to their staff with Andres Gonzales. Gonzales, won the 2012 the Soboba Golf Classic on the Web.com Tour. Gonzales finished 14th on the Web.com Tour money list to secure his PGA Tour card for 2013. Gonzales is also recognized as one of the funniest personalities in golf. Gonzales often contacts Tiger Woods via Twitter, pretending they are best friends. Another great addition to the 2013 Callaway Tour Staff.
Oakley admitted Rory McIlroy is irreplaceable, however the made good moves in his absence, signing Bubba Watson and Zach Johnson to apparel deals.