Maybe Graeme McDowell never got the memo that you're never supposed to change a winning game plan.The Belfast Telegraph reported on Jan. 1 that the 2010 U.S. Open winner signed a multi-year deal with Srixon worth about $3 million per year. McDowell's name did not appear when I checked the list of Callaway's staff professionals on the company's Web site Monday morning.There had been rumors of a deal brewing between McDowell and Srixon for a few weeks. However, in mid-December when I spoke with a Callaway representative, I was told that there was still a chance that McDowell, whose contract expired on Dec. 31, might stay with the company.Sure, business is business, but this will be an especially bitter loss for Callaway. The company awarded McDowell with a sterling silver belt buckle, trimmed in gold, to commemorate his win at Pebble Beach. He was also flown to Carlsbad, Calif., in September, where he spoke to Callaway employees at their annual sales meeting and talked about how much he liked his equipment—and the products he'd tried that were on the way for the 2011 season.
While McDowell's accountant will certainly be happy with his new deal, it does come with a certain level of risk. The Northern Irishman had a dream season in 2010, and if his level of play falls off in 2011, a lot of people will say that he simply chased the money instead of sticking with the equipment that helped him achieve so much in 2010.It's unclear exactly which Srixon clubs McDowell will use, but I will publish a complete list of his equipment later this week—McDowell is in the field at the season-opening event at Kapalua. Srixon may have found some money to sign McDowell after Jim Furyk, whose contract also ended on Dec. 31, decided to sign an endorsement deal with TaylorMade. Another player who has switched to TaylorMade is Camilo Villegas. In August, Acushnet and Cobra Golf sued TaylorMade and Villegas after TaylorMade announced that the Colombian star, who won last season's Honda Classic, had signed an endorsement deal with the company while Villegas was under contract to play a Titleist ball and use Cobra clubs.This week at Kapalua, look for Villegas to use a bag full of TaylorMade gear, a Penta TP ball, and display the company's logo on his hat and bag. See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Callaway/Odyssey, Srixon and TaylorMade clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith. Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook