October 09, 2017
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Tony Finau, one of the most coveted equipment free agents, played a mixed bag this season. (Robert LaBerge/Getty Images)
Two years ago, PXG made headlines during the offseason by signing five PGA TOUR winners (Zach Johnson, Billy Horschel, James Hahn, Charles Howell III and Chris Kirk) to its staff — a move that signaled the equipment manufacturer's intent to have a significant presence in the professional ranks.
While the staff has grown since the initial signing wave, Chris Kirk became the first PXG staffer to go a different direction with his equipment. Kirk was seen at the Safeway Open using a mixed setup consisting of TaylorMade, PING, Mizuno and Titleist equipment, along with a Travis Mathew staff bag.
Looks like Chris Kirk is no longer on staff with PXG. Travis Mathew bag and playing mixed setup of Titleist, TaylorMade, Mizuno and Ping. pic.twitter.com/as4Iugm6mn— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) October 6, 2017
According to a PXG representative, Kirk is no longer on staff after the two sides parted ways during the offseason. Prior to joining PXG at the beginning of 2016, Kirk was ranked 46th in the Official World Golf Ranking; he opened the 2017-18 season ranked 152nd in the world.
Kirk finished T30 in his first start with new equipment. Last season, Kirk recorded a runner-up showing at the Sanderson Farms Championship to go along with three top 10s in 28 starts.
Finau stands pat: As one of the most coveted equipment free agents on the market, Tony Finau arrived at the Safeway Open with the same equipment setup he used for most of the 2016-17 season.
Finau, along with Brooks Koepka, enjoyed career years after Nike exited the equipment industry in 2016. The departure offered the players the opportunity to sign elsewhere, but both chose to play the entire season without an equipment contract.
At the moment, the most prominent manufacturer in Finau's bag is PING. He currently has PING woods and irons in the bag to go along with Callaway wedges and a Titleist golf ball.
Most equipment deals run from January through the end of December, so it's possible Finau could be unveiled at the beginning of next year. Of course, based on his success with a mixed setup, it's very possible Finau could stand pat and stick with what works.
The Dude comes to the course: Fans of the Coen brothers' "The Big Lebowski" will have an opportunity to bring The Dude to the course. In a nod to the flick that's turned into a cult classic, Toulon Design created a headcover created after the cardigan worn by Jeff Bridges, better known as "The Dude."
Toulon hasn't announced a release date, but Tony Toulon, the head of social media for Odyssey and Toulon, confirmed it would be available on the company's website in the not-to-distant-future.
Tommy Fleetwood changes drivers: One of the few remaining Nike staffers using a bag setup consisting of mostly Swoosh clubs, Tommy Fleetwood replaced his Vapor Fly Pro driver with an 8.5-degree Titleist 917D2 at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Fleetwood went on to shoot a course-record 63 at Carnoustie with the driver in the bag.
Fleetwood opted to play last season without an equipment contract and recorded two worldwide victories in the process. For the moment, his bag setup consists of Nike, Titleist and Callaway equipment. It's unclear if Fleetwood plans to sign an equipment deal next year.
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