Tuesday 22 August 2017

McDowell set to cash in with clubs’ switch

Graeme McDowell. Photo: AP
Graeme McDowell. Photo: AP

Karl MacGinty

LIPS were sealed tight on both sides of the Atlantic yesterday as speculation raged that Graeme McDowell could be on the move from Callaway.

McDowell’s contract with Callaway expires on December 31 and magazine ‘Golfweek’ reported “an industry source familiar with the situation confirmed discussions between the two parties ended without agreement.”

Though McDowell's agent, Conor Ridge of Dublin firm Horizon Sports Management, declined to make any comment last night, he gave the distinct impression that negotiations were still ongoing.

“Terms of Graeme’s contract with Callaway are confidential, and we don’t discuss such issues with third parties,” said Ridge, adopting precisely the same stance as Callaway spokesman Tim Buckman. Ironically, the incredible success of their partnership could prise McDowell and Callaway apart.

As the hottest player in world golf at present, McDowell’s signature on the dotted line will come at a far higher price for Callaway, while there’d be no shortage of interest from other equipment manufacturers.

Already, US Open champion and Ryder Cup match-clincher McDowell is being strongly linked with a move to Srixon-Cleveland following news that Jim Furyk has moved to TaylorMade.

McDowell’s current contract is with Callaway’s European arm, but the company must provide the Ulsterman with a contract reflecting his new status in the world game if they want to keep him – and a $3m-year deal would be about the going rate.

Yet money is just one facet of a complex equation. McDowell (31) chose to go without a club contract a few years back so he could determine which equipment best suited him.

Tomorrow, McDowell teams up with Darren Clarke to form a powerful Ulster partnership in the first round of the 54-hole Shark Shootout at Tiburon Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples Florida, which is the final event of his unforgettable season.

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