Els turns to IMG for management

Ernie Els, who won this year's Open Championship, has signed with IMG.

Ernie Els, who won this year's Open Championship, has signed with IMG.

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IMG, the management and marketing giant, announced today the signing of Ernie Els to a representation deal, marking a rebound for the firm beset by recent agent and player defections.

IMG will manage business affairs on a worldwide basis for Els, 43, who captured his fourth major title at this year’s Open Championship. The South African, who was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2011, has more than 65 titles to his credit, including 19 on the PGA Tour. One of the Tour’s marquee players, Els has expanded his off-course endeavors to include golf course design and wine businesses.

The victory at Royal Lytham & St. Annes in July revitalized the career of Els, who had undergone a couple of management changes. After a long tenure with agent Chubby Chandler, Els signed last fall with Pros Inc., a new firm launched by industry veterans Buddy Marucci, Vinny Giles and Giff Breed. According to an IMG statement, Els’ “management at Pros Inc. will be moved to IMG.”

Explaining his decision to join IMG, Els said: “IMG has a global network of offices, loads of experienced and dedicated golf staff operating in every aspect of the game so really is best equipped to help me achieve everything I want to do on and off the course.”

In August, IMG reached a settlement in its lawsuit against Jon Wagner, a former employee who left the agency in April. His departure soon was followed by the exits of senior vice president Kevin Lynch and player representative Jeff Stacy.

The agency viewed the exodus as a collective move and a violation of Wagner’s noncompete clause, which placed restrictions on his recruitment of IMG staff and existing or prospective clients. During the tumult, PGA Tour player Trevor Immelman – a former Wagner client – left the agency. The settlement reaffirms the restrictions on Wagner, with neither party admitting wrongdoing.

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