Having returned to the world No. 1 ranking just a few days ago, Justin Rose appears on the verge of leaving the only equipment company he’s ever known as a pro.
Rose has used TaylorMade clubs since turning pro in 1998, including last week at the Turkish Airlines Open where he outlasted Haotong Li in a playoff to successfully defend his title. That victory moved him past Brooks Koepka and back into the top spot in the world rankings, although Koepka is projected to regain the No. 1 ranking next week without either player hitting a competitive shot.
Despite moving within striking distance of Francesco Molinari for the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title with his win in Turkey, Rose isn’t playing this week’s Nedbank World Challenge or the European Tour season finale in Dubai. When asked about that decision by reporters after his win Sunday, the Englishman remained somewhat vague.
“I don’t really know how to answer that one,” Rose said. “It might become apparent next year, but there are things that I need to kind of get figured out.”
Those “things” apparently include adjusting to new equipment, as multiple reports indicate that Rose is expected to swap his TaylorMade gear for that of Japanese manufacturer Honma beginning in 2019. When probed further by reporters in Turkey about a possible switch, Rose reportedly offered a coy reply: “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Rose’s equipment deal with TaylorMade and apparel contract with former sister company Adidas both reportedly expire at the end of the year. He’s expected to next play competitively at the Hero World Challenge near his home in the Bahamas at the end of the month.
Should he make the switch, Rose would join Sergio Garcia [Callaway] as a recent major champion to leave the TaylorMade stable. But the company still boasts equipment deals with a number of top-ranked players, including Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.