The Primary Cut
Sixteenth installment of The Primary Cut – weekly insights from the world of golf player management and other golf-related industry and player news.
As expected, Phil Mickelson, who had been in the midst of a lawsuit that he filed against ex-sponsor Bearing Point (Tim Rosaforte reported the matter has now been ‘pulled off the table’), had no trouble finding a replacement sponsor and logo for his headwear. Before last week’s Pebble Beach Pro Am, Mickelson announced a three-year global sponsorship agreement with the New York-based KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm.
“Phil commands a great deal of respect around the world and shares our dedication to giving back to the community, with a particular focus on education and improving the lives of children,” said Timothy P. Flynn, Chairman and CEO of KPMG. “And we are in good company when it comes to other companies that are associated with Phil – Rolex, Callaway and ExxonMobil.”
As part of his agreement, Mickelson will be available to appear at an agreed-upon number of KPMG-sponsored marketing events, client meetings and local office events, as well as advertising opportunities.
Interestingly, Mickelson is in essence returning to the KPMG brand, whose logo he began wearing in 2000. Bearing Point (renamed in 2002) was formally known as KPMG Consulting back then, a spin off unit of KPMG, and when the name change occurred, so did Mickelson’s logo. But financial difficulties in 2007 culminated in the termination of Bearing Point CEO and Mickelson friend Harry You, and presumably a new philosophy when it came to marketing. It was rumored that close to half of Bearing Point’s entire yearly marketing budget, for instance, was dedicated solely to sponsoring Mickelson. But no more.
Every year a new crop of ‘next big things’ hit the Tour, although no one save for possibly Adam Scott has gone on to really validate the label. But Jason Day (left), who raised eyebrows when he (gasp) uttered the word ‘challenge’ and ‘Tiger’ in the same sentence, may just be for real. That said, he is still learning the ropes of Tour life, as well as adulthood.
In reference to Day, and young pros in particular, Gaylord Sports Management CEO Steve Loy had an interesting quote, which also underscores the importance of new professionals especially having an agent or player manager in their corner who can help with the new adjustments.
“If these guys could follow a player around for a year without actually competing, it would be the most beneficial thing they could do,” said Loy. “Things like travel and management of time on and off the tour you only learn by experiencing.”
Day’s “entourage” is small, but so far sufficient. An accountant helps him with his finances; a caddie/coach Colin Swatton is on his bag; and SFX agents Bud Martin and Ian Davis handle his contracts, endorsements and other management-related affairs.
“I’m really trying to keep it simple,” Day said. “I didn’t want much to change.”
This will be easier said than done. Day’s strong play thus far in 2008 has dispelled any worry about a learning curve adjustment from the Nationwide Tour, or an injured wrist that has now seemingly healed. And his style of play and public persona mirror Camilo Villegas, whom I’ve argued is the second most marketable player on Tour behind Tiger in terms of brand longevity and potential growth.
One thing Day has seemed to already have learned is how to manage his schedule. For instance, despite his strong play on Tour thus far, Day will not be playing in this week’s Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles. Rather, the 20-year-old Aussie decided last week that he would stick to his preferred schedule plan – of only playing three weeks in a row – in order to stay mentally and physically fresh.
If Day doesn’t win PGA Tour Rookie Of The Year in 2008, Dustin Johnson will. He ranks 3rd currently on Tour in driving distance, and is 16th on the FedEx Points list heading into Riviera. Johnson is under an exclusive, worldwide representation agreement with Dallas-based Hambric Sports Management, and also has a multi-year endorsement agreement with TaylorMade-adidas Golf. Johnson is represented by HSM Executive VP David Winkle. HSM is quietly rising in the management business after somewhat of a repose. Right before signing Johnson last fall, HSM announced the addition of Colt Knost, the reigning United States Amateur and United States Public Links Champion. Meanwhile, Anthony Kim continues to impress, and Justin Leonard has seemingly found his way to a time machine set to 1997.
CDW Corp. signed Paula Creamer to a long-term sponsorship agreement and will work with Creamer to “configure technology solutions geared toward enhancing her game.” The 21-year old Creamer is represented by Jay Burton of IMG and finished third on last year’s money list, while rising in the world rankings to fifth. And in a related move, CDW launched its five year sponsorship as the Official Technology Partner of the PGA TOUR in January of this year at the Buick Invitational in San Diego. The company is currently working with the TOUR to enhance its technological capabilities on and off the green. In particular, CDW is working with the TOUR on ways to enhance its SHOTlink scoring technology and make its information even more accessible to fans.
Firstar Sports Inc. reached an agreement to be the exclusive outfitter of Canadian Tour player Walter Keating Jr. Keating will wear clothing from Firstar’s line of essential golf wear, which features a combination of tour-inspired designs and MST microfiber technology.
It seems Tour players like IMG so much that they’ll volunteer time to caddy for them.
Newly acquired Natalie Gulbis, one of the most marketable names in golf, left her clubs at home when she showed up at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week to carry the bag of IMG Chairman and CEO Ted Forstmann, who was playing with close friend and IMG client Vijay Singh. Gulbis, you remember, recently joined the IMG client list after leaving Octagon, terminating a two-year relationship with the McLean, VA-based firm. She also recently purchased a home in Jupiter, FL, which is also home to IMG’s Camilo Villegas as well as a $40-plus million construction effort soon to house Tiger and family. But Gulbis will not be quitting her day job anytime soon. She neglected to pay attention, for instance, when Forstmann hit the wrong ball at one point and incurred a penalty.