NEWS FROM THE TOUR VANS
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A new hat can say a lot – or sometimes not as much as one would think.
It certainly announced a meaningful shift for world No. 2 Jon Rahm, who arrived at the Sentry Tournament of Champions with a new multiyear agreement with Callaway. The Spaniard is beginning a transition into a full bag from the company, starting this week with a 10.5-degree Proto Triple Diamond driver, Mavrik Sub Zero woods, a UT Proto 3-iron, Apex Proto irons (4-PW), Jaws Forged JPN wedges and a Chrome Soft X ball. He currently is using a TaylorMade Spider X putter but is expected to switch to Odyssey in the future.
“I’m so happy to be joining Callaway, and I can’t wait to start the year,” Rahm said in a statement before teeing it up at Kapalua. “The equipment is already performing well for me, and in my first round with the new setup, I shot a course-record 59 at Silverleaf. I have confidence in my new Callaway clubs – and especially the golf ball, which has really impressed me during the testing process.”
The casual fan may be taken aback to see Rahm depart from TaylorMade. But he used Callaway equipment throughout his college career at Arizona State, where he became the first player to win the Ben Hogan Award twice and was the top-ranked amateur in the world for a record 60 weeks. It won’t be a return to the exact models he used during his time in school (2012-16), but the familiarity with the brand should ease growing pains.
Unlike with Rahm’s new Callaway lid, Patrick Reed’s new Titleist hat – an odd sight given the former Masters champion’s many years with Nike – did not signify that Reed is a new Titleist staffer. While it’s true that Reed has moved on from Nike apparel and clubs, he only has a ball contract with Titleist and used the hat as a stopgap until he finds a permanent apparel deal. Reed continues to be a “brand-agnostic” player, employing a mixed bag with Titleist, TaylorMade and Callaway clubs. There is a growing legion of players who have taken this approach – Jason Day became the latest when he recently left the TaylorMade stable.
On the other side of the equation, Adam Scott came to Hawaii without his customary Titleist hat, which raised a question about whether he made a surprising move away from the brand he has played throughout his entire career. However, the only change was a new hat sponsor in Uniqlo, a Japanese apparel company Scott has used since 2015.
While TaylorMade lost Rahm and Day as full staffers, the company found a worthy replacement in the form of world No. 17 Tommy Fleetwood. The Englishman spent the past four-plus years without an equipment deal but it’s not surprising to see Fleetwood side with TaylorMade given his extensive history with the brand. Fleetwood was the first player to use a custom set of their P7TW irons in competition and has routinely played TaylorMade gear throughout his career.
In addition to signing Fleetwood, TaylorMade announced a new multiyear extension with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson. The reigning Masters champion has been with the brand since turning pro in 2007 and was among the players spotted testing the new SIM2 driver at Kapalua.
FootJoy had 55 percent of the shoe count and 41 percent of the glove count at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Winner Harris English wore DryJoys Tour shoes and a Pure Touch glove.