Rickie Fowler is to play the TaylorMade TP5x ball for the 2019 season and beyond, after signing a multi-year agreement with the leading golf-equipment manufacturer.
Fowler was one of the many PGA and European Tour stars using Titleist’s ProV1 golf ball, regarded as the world’s leading ball. But with his contract coming to a conclusion at the end of 2018, the American has decided to make the switch to TaylorMade’s premium TP5 ball and play the TP5x model.
It is a decision that has shocked the golf world as TaylorMade continue to make a major impression with the TP5 and as they look to continue eating into Titleist’s market share of the golf ball sector—with four-time winner and major runner-up Fowler a huge catch.
Fowler has explained the reason behind his decision to switch to TaylorMade. It was something that started during the 2018 Ryder Cup week at Le Golf National in Paris when he first practiced with a TP5 in preparation for playing foursomes with Dustin Johnson, one of TaylorMade’s staff golfers. Further testing during the off-season resulted in Fowler signing a multi-year agreement to make the switch.
Fowler said: “I played with DJ at the Ryder Cup and I would play his ball some in foursomes, so I got to see it in tournament conditions and I was impressed. It was mostly driving the ball where he was hitting the approach shot, so I really waited until after the season to get time in with the golf ball. It’s been impressive.
“It’s been fun to see what the ball can do,” Fowler added of trialling the TP5. “Extra yardage on irons, more spin around the green. One less club for me into many holes is a pretty big advantage, too. What more do you want?”
Fowler will play the TP5x ball, which will feature the number 15 to pay homage to his motocross days, for the first time in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pine, where he will join the likes of Johnson, Jon Rahm, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose in the TaylorMade ranks that now include six of the current top 12 golfers in the world.
Fowler will also wear TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred glove as part of his agreement but his equipment and clothing contract with Cobra and Puma remains in place.
TaylorMade’s director of golf ball R&D Eric Loper revealed just how the manufacturer managed to persuade Fowler to make the switch. “When you’re working to convert a player from a competitor, you really have one chance,” he said. “There’s a series of tests you have to go through, and if you don’t pass a certain test, you aren’t moving forward.
“After his first pass with our product, he really understood there was an opportunity to make some changes and enhance his iron play. [Rickie] is quite technical. He really wants to know how the golf ball works and how the layers work together in the ball construction. Why we’re using certain material properties in each of those layers. Dimple profiles, dimple edge angles, the paint we’re currently using. He wants to know it all.”
Explaining why Fowler chose the TP5x over the TP5, Loper added: “[Rickie] was mentioning that TP5x was giving him some gains he simply couldn’t ignore. He was getting a couple more yards off the tee, it was cutting through the wind, and he gained a half-club length with the irons. When combined it was shortening the hole by a club for him. Those gains drove him to TP5x.
“From our perspective, Rickie signing a golf ball-only deal is a big win for us. That being said, the last thing a tour player wants is to make the switch and then have to go back [to their old ball] a year later. It’s the same thing I’ve had with every tour player that’s come onto our staff over the last 20 years I’ve been here. They all want to know what our plan is moving forward and that the technology we’re supplying them with is going to do what they need it to do each time without fail.”
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