Els cuts ties with Titleist
Titleist announces end to relationship; Callaway still quiet
Ernie Els of South Africa hits his tee shot at the par 4, 13th hole while trying out a Callaway FT-5 driver during the pro-am for the 2007 Johnnie Walker Classic.
Photo: David Cannon/Getty Images Sport
and E. Michael Johnson
February 28, 2007
It appears for the second time in 30 months Callaway Golf has lured a top 10 player in the world away from Titleist in the middle of a season. Ernie Els, a Titleist player since 2003, was spotted using a Callaway driver during practice rounds at the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand. Pictures of Els using Callaway's FT-5 have been posted on the Getty Images website. Other images show Els using a Titleist 3-wood and Titleist irons.
According to several sources, the three-time major champion will sign a deal with Callaway. Els is also expected to wear a hat sporting the Callaway Golf logo and carry a Callaway-logoed golf bag starting tomorrow at the Johnnie Walker Classic, although a deal (at least for the moment) has not been signed.
Titleist's parent company Acushnet announced Tuesday evening that it hadended its relationship with Els, the No. 6 player in the world. In the preceding days, images of Els had been removed from Titleist's website, on which Els had been a prominent component. He also was removed from Acushnet's FootJoy site. Els was the second-highest ranked player in the Titleist stable, behind Adam Scott.
The statement from Acushnet spokesman Joe Gomes reads, "Acushnet Company has reached a mutual business decision with Ernie Els to release him from his equipment contract effective immediately. Our relationship with Ernie has lasted many years, during which he represented the qualities of excellence and leadership. In turn, we believe the product and service we provided contributed to the on-course success he has enjoyed. We appreciate the association that he has had with our company and wish him the best in the future."
The move is not inconsistent with Titleist top player decisions in the past. In addition to Mickelson, the company also parted ways with Tiger Woods and David Duval in the past. Callaway spokeswoman Michele Szynal said the company has not signed Ernie Els, but a report on the Golf Digest South Africa website indicated a deal had been done.