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Denmark’s Lasse Jensen will join the world’s leading golfers at The 145TH Open at Royal Troon after qualifying at the Nordea Masters in Sweden. The Nordea Masters, played at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club near Stockholm, is the fifth event in The Open Qualifying Series and a place in golf’s oldest Championship was available to the leading player, not already exempt, in the top five and ties. Jensen produced a memorable final round surge to secure his Major Championship debut on the Ayrshire coast next month. 

“It’s a huge thing because it will be my first major so for me to be in The Open is pretty awesome,” said Jensen. “I have always wanted to play in The Open because it has so much history and tradition that has built up around it. I’m over the moon about the thought of it. When I came down the 18th I could see that I had a chance of it and I grabbed it and it feels great. As a little kid you watch The Open and it’s the best players in the world – that’s why I play golf, that’s why we’re here, to compete with the best players.”

Two-time European Tour winner Nicolas Colsaerts spent much of the day in second place as he chased Fitzpatrick, and an eagle at the par five 9th gave him momentum, but the Belgian’s challenge faded on the par three 17th, where his tee shot found the water and he took a double bogey. A birdie at the last left him on 12-under-par. Swedes Henrik Stenson, who is already in the field for Royal Troon, and Bjorn Hellgren, finished in a tie for fourth on 10-under-par.

 

Denmark’s Lasse Jensen will join the world’s leading golfers at The 145TH Open at Royal Troon after qualifying at the Nordea Masters in Sweden. The Nordea Masters, played at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club near Stockholm, is the fifth event in The Open Qualifying Series and a place in golf’s oldest Championship was available to the leading player, not already exempt, in the top five and ties. Jensen produced a memorable final round surge to secure his Major Championship debut on the Ayrshire coast next month. 

“It’s a huge thing because it will be my first major so for me to be in The Open is pretty awesome,” said Jensen. “I have always wanted to play in The Open because it has so much history and tradition that has built up around it. I’m over the moon about the thought of it. When I came down the 18th I could see that I had a chance of it and I grabbed it and it feels great. As a little kid you watch The Open and it’s the best players in the world – that’s why I play golf, that’s why we’re here, to compete with the best players.”

Two-time European Tour winner Nicolas Colsaerts spent much of the day in second place as he chased Fitzpatrick, and an eagle at the par five 9th gave him momentum, but the Belgian’s challenge faded on the par three 17th, where his tee shot found the water and he took a double bogey. A birdie at the last left him on 12-under-par. Swedes Henrik Stenson, who is already in the field for Royal Troon, and Bjorn Hellgren, finished in a tie for fourth on 10-under-par.

 

Its highly likely very few have been paying close attention to the situation brewing inside adidas with regards to its golf division. In 2015 TMaG initiated a 15% reduction in its global workforce as part of an extensive restructuring program, which also involved the closure of one of its facilities in the U.S. On a currency-neutral basis, revenues at TaylorMade declined 13% last year, thanks to sales declines in most categories and in particular metalwoods and irons, the company reported. In 2014, TMaG sales plummeted by 28%. “Half way through last year we started analyzing future options for our golf business. We expect the strategic review to be concluded by the end of the first quarter of 2016,” Hainer expressed to the investment community in March.

As the company reported its first quarter operating results, it let it be known in no un-certain terms the golf business has to go. “TaylorMade is a very viable business. However, we decided that now is the time to focus even more on our core strength in the athletic footwear and apparel market,” said Herbert Hainer. “With its leadership position in the industry and the turnaround plan gaining traction, which is clearly reflected in the top- and bottom-line improvements recorded in Q1 as well as recent market share gains, I am convinced that TaylorMade offers attractive growth opportunities in the future. At the same time, the planned divestiture will allow us to reduce complexity and focus our efforts on those areas of our business that offer the highest return and where we can have the biggest impact in reaching our consumers and winning their loyalty for the Adidas and Reebok brands.” The company is actively seeking a buyer for the remainder of its golf business, which mainly consists of the TaylorMade brand, as well as the Adams and Ashworth brands. The Executive Board has decided to enter into concrete negotiations with interested parties aimed at a divestiture of parts of the company’s golf division.  A final decision including the detailed terms of a potential agreement is subject to approval by the Supervisory Board.

The rumor mill is now open for business. Many will speculate on the fate of TaylorMade with little to no information to substantiate it. Its somewhat fitting in today’s world after all. Nevertheless, a few points are worth highlighting. First and foremost, price is the critical element in the deal. John Guy, an analyst at MainFirst, has estimated that the TaylorMade, Adams and Ashworth brands could be worth roughly €470 million.

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TaylorMade adidas Golf reported first quarter sales of 275 million euros, down 5 million euros from the first quarter of 2015. On a currency neutral basis, sales slipped by 1.7% for the reporting period, adidas said. This happened despite the success of M1, according to TaylorMade and the introduction of M2 drivers, fairway and Rescue clubs. In March, adidas CEO, Herbert Hainer, reported glowingly on M1. “We have seen extremely good response to our latest product launches. In its inaugural week on both the PGA Tour and the European Tour, TaylorMade’s M1 driver became the number one played model bringing TaylorMade back to the top spot in golf’s most important category, metalwoods,” he reported. The trouble is the professional circuits don’t buy the product; they only validate it to those who are expected to then purchase it. “Due to the strong early demand and quick sales through at retail our launch quantities were sold out quickly and much faster than we had anticipated,” Hainer said in March of 2016. Wonder if that decision is being second-guessed? According to adidas, growth at TaylorMade (6%) and adidas Golf (3%) was more than offset by double-digit sales declines at Ashworth and Adams. The company did not provide any breakdown on TMaG’s contribution to its bottom line for the quarter.

While foreign exchange rates played a role in the final numbers, it’s worth pointing out that TMaG’s sales decline was consistent with its rival Callaway Golf. Last week Callaway reported a first quarter sales decline of $10 million or 3.5% from 2015. 

 

It’s believed that Tiger Woods has inspired multi-generational players with his on course performance. While several years his junior, Jordan Spieth appears to have already made an impact with at least one individual who could be on his way to the PGA TOUR before too long. Brad Dalke is the 2015 Junior PGA Championship, which also earned him a place in this week’s Valero Texas Open field.

Dalke wears Under Armour head to toe and admits Spieth has inspired him. “He's a great guy, great role model to look up to. I am inspired by his composure on the course, the way he plays his golf and his game. You know, he's a great guy to look up. I'm definitely try to emulate myself after him,” he said. “ He's obviously done a great job these first few years on the Tour. I've played with him once, lost to him by 2. I'm very inspired by him.”

Dalke also made a name for himself off the course last year too. He challenged Rory McIlroy to an arm wrestling contest and the 17-year old came beat the world #1. “I was surprised by how big that got,” he said. “I tweeted the video and I think it ended up getting like 700 re-tweets and something like that. It was cool. Went viral. I definitely wasn't expecting that. It was really cool. There's not many guys out there that will be No. 1 in the world at the time and arm wrestle a 17 year old at the junior events. He's a great guy and I was really surprised that he accepted the challenge.” Dalke added he won’t look to push his luck this week in arm wrestling. “I don't think I'll challenge anybody this week. I'll go one and done on that one.” Dalke will look to let his clubs do his talking this week and no matter what happens, he’ll get a first hand look at what it takes to get to the next level.

 

The R&A is showing its support for nine hole golf. It is introducing a new championship at Royal Troon this summer. The inaugural event for amateurs will be played on Saturday July 9th at Royal Troon, giving the players the opportunity to play nine holes at the historic Ayrshire links on the eve of The 145TH Open. In 2017, the event will be expanded to cover golf clubs in Great Britain and Ireland with players being given the opportunity to qualify at nine hole events held by The R&A’s affiliated national associations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Padraig Harrington, two-time Champion Golfer of the Year and R&A Working for Golf Ambassador, welcomed the initiative. “People who want to play golf are increasingly struggling to find the time to play and so positioning nine hole golf as a legitimate alternative makes a lot of sense,” he said. “I’m really pleased to see The R&A taking the lead in this area. For regular amateur golfers to be able to play The Open venue in championship condition immediately before the best players in the world is a fantastic initiative and I’m sure this new competitive format will encourage more people to get out on the golf course and play nine hole golf.”

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Can a little something possibly turn into something big? One equipment company is intrigued to find out if that is possible. The car industry has its super cars that are sold in limited quantities but fetch exorbitant prices. For example, Ford is selling only 500 GT Supercar at $400,000 a piece. Applicants have until May 12th to state their case why they should be one of the few to own one of these dream machines. Go figure?

But Titleist is dipping its toe into this pool as its R&D team has been pushing management to give it some addition room to work with on the club side of the business. In turn management is throwing the ball back in R&D’s court by saying let’s see what you can do. The result is Titleist Concept Clubs have been unveiled. In speaking with Titleist officials, the company’s engineers have expressed a strong belief that it can do more with club performance and yet stay well within the equipment rules governing the game. In large part equipment is often engineered with the best players in the world in mind. Yet only a relative few are fortunate enough to be considered in this category and frankly, they never pay for their equipment. But they validate the product and process to those that ultimately fund the golf economy.

titleistconceptclubsThe new Titleist Concept Clubs initiative provides an avenue to showcase highly innovative technologies, ultra-premium materials, advanced construction methods and cosmetic treatments that result from this rigorous, ongoing R&D process, the company said. Concept Clubs can also provide golfers a glimpse into the future, as Concept product technology may (or may not) transition into next generation in-line Titleist products. By their nature, Concept Clubs are super premium and released in extremely limited quantity (in the U.S. only). So while it isn’t necessarily intended to be a growth platform in terms of revenue possibilities, it could quite easily become a testing/proving ground for something that may be in a future Titleist product. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised if this topic enjoys a considerable amount of buzz. For example, the Titleist Concept C16 Driver is carrying a minimum advertised price of $999. Factor in the taxman and its well over a grand. Titleist said it will only produce 1,500 drivers.

The equipment business and especially the retail sector have been challenged with respect to price expansion throughout the years. The limited quantities will undoubtedly go fast, in part since the volume isn’t that significant relative to the overall market. Golf still possesses some early adopters, the kind that have to be the first to have something and Titleist also enjoys a strong following of “serious” players. In the instance of Titleist Concept Clubs, fitting is a necessity, but not mandatory. The company isn’t looking to create a new category in the equipment space, according to Titleist officials. In fact, its R&D department is said to be extremely optimistic that it can increase the distance recreational players hit the ball. Titleist also has 1,000 sets of C16 irons that it will be selling. The minimum advertised price is $2,699 (set of 8, steel), $2,999 (set of 8, graphite), which will immediately eliminate many from considering it. According to VP of Golf Club Marketing, Josh Talge, the C16 irons can play one club longer than Titleist’s AP1s with the same loft. The C16 line will never see the light of day at retail. But it will generate word of mouth by those who elect to give them a try. “Titleist is about performance,” said VP of Golf Club Marketing, Josh Talge. “Titleist is also about innovation.”

In conjunction somewhat with this super premium product introduction, the company is starting on April 28 (on consecutive Thursdays for two months), Titleist Thursdays. It is providing some of its product experts at facilities nationwide to conduct club fittings, offer product trial, and answer questions. Consumers can sign up for a free fitting of Titleist metals, irons, or wedges or try the entire Titleist golf club lineup including potentially the C16s. All of the fittings will be conducted with Pro V1 and Pro V1x golf balls and data will be collected with TrackMan ball flight monitors. So for anyone interested in taking the latest Titleist metals, irons or wedges out for a test drive, they may discover the C16 driver or irons might enter into the conversation. Sign ups are available on a first come first serve basis as well as walk-ups are welcome.

 

It is an iconic moment from an iconic tournament. Its been 30 years since Jack Nicklaus won his final green jacket. Golf’s greatest comeback in a major, which saw the Golden Bear go 7 under over 9 holes to take the lead from Seve Ballesteros and win his 18th major. Soundwaves Art Foundation partnered with St. Andrews Legacy to celebrate this iconic moment in golf. A limited number of prints are still remaining. 

The artwork captures the sound waves of the crowd as Jack holes his putt on the 17th green to secure his record breaking 18th major. The canvas print is 24 inches high by 30 inches wide and each has been signed by Jack Nicklaus in the center bottom portion of the canvas.

St Andrews Legacy is considering all offers on the remaining prints. Those bidding on the remaining prints can purchase with confidence knowing their authenticity and that Jack Nicklaus is fully supportive of St Andrews Legacy. Offers are being accepted until the final putt is holed on Sunday of the 2016 Masters with emails promised on Monday advising if the offers have been accepted. For those interested in making an offer click here

 
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