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Love turns down Nike to stay with Titleist

Davis Love III turned down an offer from Nike Golf to play a ball similar to the one used by Tiger Woods, agreeing today to a multiyear contract extension with Acushnet Co. to stick with Titleist.

"Our entire company is ecstatic that Davis will remain part of the Acushnet Co. family for many years to come,'' chairman and CEO Wally Uihlein said in a statement.

He declined to disclose terms of the deal, only that Love will continue playing Titleist clubs and balls, and wear gloves and shoes by FootJoy, another Acushnet brand.

Davis Love in action. Allsport.

"When someone is throwing piles of money at you, you've got to take a look,'' Love said after his pro-am round at the Bell Canadian Open. "It was awfully tempting. We're talking a lot of money -- more than what you're used to. In the end, I wanted to be with Titleist.''

The contract extension comes at an important time for Titleist, which lost Woods to Nike and Colin Montgomerie to Callaway Golf in a golf ball battle that continues to heat up.

"The game is on,'' Uihlein told Golf World Business. "As far as we're concerned, we're at war, and Love was our Midway. Anybody who thinks we're lying and dying, I've got news for them. We're beefing up, we're not backing off.''

And Titleist appears to be rearming.

Love first tried the Nike Tour Accuracy, a brand used by Woods and Notah Begay, before theOpen and liked the ball well enough to consider leaving Titleist. What persuaded him to stay with Titleist was a new three-piece ball expected to be released later this year.

Love also got a new set of irons -- 990bs -- which are in his bag this week.

One industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said Phil Mickelson considered shopping around for a new product until he tried a prototype of the new Titleist ball, which is expected to be on the U.S. Golf Association's next approval list.

"It's so good, it's a joke,'' Love said. "I called Wally after the NEC and said, 'I want to hit the new ball, and if it's it what I want, we'll talk.' As soon as I hit it, I called Wally and said, 'What are we going to do?' "

Titleist recently re-signed Ernie Els and Masters champion Vijay Singh. It also has deals with David Duval, Lee Westwood, Darren Clarke, and Sergio Garcia, and is trying to keep Jesper Parnevik in its camp.

"We didn't want to lose him (Love),'' Uihlein told Golf World Business. "We take very seriously any threat to our franchise and any attempt to derail our position in the marketplace.''


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