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Volume 24 No. 160

Marketing and Sponsorship

Golfer Rory McIlroy and Acushnet Co., which manufactures the Titleist and Footjoy brands, today jointly announced that their relationship will not extend beyond Dec. 31. McIlroy has been with the company since he began his pro career in September '07 (Acushnet). PGATOUR.com's Brian Wacker notes the announcement "fuels speculation that McIlroy will sign with Nike, which has long been rumored by industry insiders, but there has been no confirmation." A Nike spokesperson said that the company "will not comment on rumors" (PGATOUR.com, 10/30). Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard said, “I had a pretty good source tell me that he had multiple years left on that deal, and I’m a little surprised. I knew that the relationship had been strained in recent weeks because there were a lot of reports that he was going to sign with another company, with Nike Golf being the leader in that clubhouse." Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer said, "Titleist has a reputation of not renewing big contracts with players when they get to be global superstars." Rymer said of the Nike rumors, "It might be a nice fit to have Rory and Tiger in the same stable." But CBS' Nick Faldo said, “I’d call it dangerous. I’ve changed clubs and equipment, and every manufacturer will say, ‘We can copy your clubs, we can tweak the golf balls so it’s you.’ But there’s feel and there’s sound and there’s confidence as well. You can’t put a real value on that” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 10/30).

Golfer Brad Fritsch “will be sporting Ottawa Senators colours" on the PGA Tour next season after the team yesterday "announced a sponsorship agreement with the 34-year-old golfer," according to Ken Warren of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. Fritsch, who grew up in Manotick, Ont., earned his PGA Tour card Sunday after finishing 18th on the Web.com Tour money list. Fritsch will “sport the Senators logo on his golf shirts and on his golf bag.” In exchange, the team will "provide him with an undisclosed amount of financial support.” He also will "take part in several Senators-oriented community events.” The team's "promotional partnership" with Fritsch began "in the summer" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 10/29). The Senators are the latest pro sports team to sponsor PGA Tour golfers. The D'Backs sponsored Chez Reavie when he won the RBC Canadian Open in '08 (THE DAILY).