Jan
4
2011
Graeme McDowell Sports His New Look; Also Other Sponsor Moves
By Stephanie Wei under Equipment

Graeme McDowell wearing new sponsor logos for a photo shoot on 1st tee at Kapalua on Tuesday

You know what they say — where there’s smoke, there’s fire. For the past two months, rumor of Graeme McDowell leaving Callaway for Srixon fluttered through the golf industry. Now that it’s the new year, the news has been confirmed. McDowell has signed a multi-year deal estimated at $3 million with Srixon, the Belfast Telegraph reported:

McDowell has agreed to play with the Srixon golf ball, wear their hat and glove and, along with his choice of Srixon clubs, use wedges produced by sister company Cleveland, the world-leaders in this department.

When I contacted reps from both companies in late November, they said that they could not comment on players still under contract with other manufacturers (I asked Callaway about Trevor Immelman leaving Nike to sign with Callaway, too.) The sense I got was that equipment companies were keeping extra mum about new business transactions because of the (peculiar) incident with a prominent player earlier this year. Which, of course, was understandable.

Many wondered why he would make a change after his dream year. Most speculate that he was offered more money. In McDowell’s Tuesday press conference at Kapalua, the site of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, he gave a passable explanation for the switch.

I believe in Srixon, a company I’ve had a relationship with for many years. I played Cleveland stuff in college. I had a good relationship with a guy there called Mike Dunfey, who was the ex-coach of UAB, and I’ve continued to have a great relationship with him over my professional career. My Callaway contract was up, and you know, it just so happened that I just happened to get in contact with a guy at Cleveland/Srixon.

Of course I’ve had a great few years with Callaway but they have been great with me. I’ve had a great relationship with them and I’ve maintained a great relationship with them going forward. But sometimes things come to end and I feel really good about the start of a new era with some fresh energy coming at me from some new guys.

And the golf ball is probably one of the things that attracted me most, the Srixon ball is pretty impressive. I was messing around with it at the end of last season and I realized I felt like it was a golf ball I could get to the next level with.

Like I say it’s a company with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm and I company that will have me as one of their top players, and allowing me to be a big part of their research, development and club development going forward. It’s got a lot of positives. I’m sure people are scratching their head but like I say, things change and I always like to have some good energy coming up.

Jim Furyk’s contract with Srixon expired at the end of 2010 and he signed an endorsement deal with TaylorMade. Meanwhile, Trevor Immelman left Nike for Callaway. Titleist lost (or dumped, so I heard, waiting for confirmation) Davis Love III to Bridgestone. And of course, Camilo Villegas left Cobra for TaylorMade.

Here’s a list of new Titleist staffers (former company in parenthesis):

Full product line

Tim Clark (Srixon)

Brian Davis (Srixon)

Harrison Frazer (Srixon)

Kris Blanks (Adams)

Ball

Charles Howell III (glove, too; Bridgestone)

Rocco Mediate (glove, too; Callaway, but played ProV1 in his win)

David Duval (glove, too; Nike?)

Rich Beem (glove and shoes, too; Callaway)

Kevin Streelman (Srixon)

Finally, here’s a photo of McDowell’s pretty new Srixon bag. I’ll try to get a closer look tomorrow.