Published reports of Justin Rose’s expected move from TaylorMade to Honma sets up 2019 as the ultimate battle of the big stick.
While an industry source confirmed plans for the move to The Forecaddie – even as Rose is refusing to affirm for obvious contractual reasons – expect the 20-year TaylorMade man to slowly ease into his new partnership. Europe’s highest-ranked player will stick with his TaylorMade woods until he’s comfortable moving to Honma’s gear and is even sticking with the TaylorMade TP5 ball for the foreseeable future.
The Man Out Front also hears Rose is not the only Honma adoptee in 2019, with at least one high-profile player already signed and possibly as many as two more names you know headed to the company leaning on former TaylorMade CEO Mark King for guidance as it expands into markets outside of Asia. Not coincidentally, King signed Rose two decades ago.
TMOF is hearing from agents that TaylorMade is reducing its program paying middle-tier Tour players to use their big sticks. New owner KPS Capital Partners is pinning its marketing hopes on big names and recent high-priced signees. With Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Tiger Woods leading the way, that’s an impressive roster of marketing firepower.
Still, it’s a surprising shift for a company that has dominated driver counts since The Forecaddie was in diapers. Couple this news with Callaway winning the driver count at last week’s Mayakoba Golf Classic along with Ping taking the numbers crown at the Charles Schwab Championship, and the battle to claim driver supremacy will add even more spice to the 2019 season. Gwk