Sergio Garcia makes surprise return to TaylorMade: ‘It’s nice to be back’
Sergio Garcia is coming home. After almost 18 months as an equipment free agent, the 2017 Masters champion will officially rejoin TaylorMade’s Tour staff at the PGA Championship after coming to terms on a multi-year deal equipment deal that includes clubs, golf ball, staff bag and side of the hat.
It’s a deal Garcia is more than familiar with following a decade-and-a-half run with TaylorMade that came to a close when the two sides parted ways at the end of 2017. A month later, Garcia was unveiled as a Callaway staffer. The next three-plus years turned out to be a whirlwind for Garcia, who split from Callaway in 2018 to take up gear free agency.
For several months, Garcia bounced between a number of equipment manufacturers, but one brand always seemed to have a regular spot in his bag setup: TaylorMade. What initially started as TaylorMade SIM fairway woods at the start of 2020 evolved into the reintroduction of nearly every club from his old manufacturer, golf ball included.
It didn’t take Garcia long to pick up on the gear trend.
“I’ve been a free agent for just about a year-and-a-half and have been able to play whatever I wanted,” Garcia told GOLF.com. “Funny enough, I ended up playing the TaylorMade golf ball and about 11 or 12 clubs. I ended up going back to where I was the most comfortable throughout my career, which was playing TaylorMade. The guys at TaylorMade realized that and we started talking and seeing if there was a possibility to do something.”
Garcia’s path back to TaylorMade is one few pros have taken during their career. It’s not uncommon for a high-profile name to leave his longtime club manufacturer for a mega-deal elsewhere, but very seldom does the pro ever reverse course and “go home” when things don’t work out.
What ultimately led Garcia to consider returning to TaylorMade was his existing relationship with the company’s tour reps, and his familiarity with the golf ball — a piece of gear he played an integral role in helping bring to life when the company introduced its maiden TP Red in 2006.
“Ball is the most important thing,” said Garcia. “Obviously, the woods are massive, but the ball is the most important part of the equipment that can help or hurt you, depending on if you’re playing the right or wrong ball. It was definitely a big part of [my decision to sign]. Since 2006, I’ve been very happy with the TaylorMade ball and all the work they’ve done.”
Garcia made the switch to TaylorMade’s 2021 TP5x earlier this year at the Sentry Tournament of Champions after noticing subtle improvements around the green.
“Throughout the last few years, they’ve improved around the greens where they weren’t quite as good as some of the other balls might have been,” said Garcia. “They’ve definitely improved a lot on that. I felt it the last couple of years when I was playing with TaylorMade.”
Even when Garcia was a free agent, his thoughtful, detailed feedback during product testing made him a go-to tester for TaylorMade Tour rep Adrian Rietveld, who continually leaned on the 41-year-old for insights on what the company was doing right and needed to improve with their gear.
“When I give him a club, I always get a lengthy, worthwhile response in our conversations,” Rietveld told GOLF.com. “Sometimes it’s an audio text that lasts a few minutes. His feel is off the charts and he picks up on things that most wouldn’t even notice. There’s a reason why I’ve relied on him so much.”
Aside from the ball, Garcia told GOLF.com that he’ll likely keep the equipment changes to a minimum as he chases a spot on the 2021 European Ryder Cup team. If there’s one club he could change in the coming weeks, it’s driver after going through a positive testing session with SIM2 Max. (He’s also trying out a TaylorMade Spider EX putter at the moment.)
“There’s not many things I need to change, to be totally honest,” he said. “I played new SIM2 a little bit at the beginning of the year and tested again a little last week. A couple SIM2 Max drivers felt good. I’m just going to confirm the next few it’s working the way it feels like it’s working.”
Gear and testing aside, Garcia is just happy to be back in a familiar place using familiar gear that played an important role in his career trajectory. It’s a setup he believes has the chance to help him make some noise over the final six months of the year, starting with the PGA Championship.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s nice to be back with the TaylorMade family because I’ve been here for 15 years. That is something that’s not easy to do. There’s a good connection there and we’re excited to be back together.”
Sergio Garcia’s PGA Championship equipment setup:
Driver: TaylorMade SIM (Fujikura Ventus Black 7X shaft), 9 degrees
3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Rocket (Fujikura Ventus Black 7X shaft), 14.5 degrees
5-wood: TaylorMade SIM (Fujikura Ventus Black 8X shaft), 19 degrees
Irons: TaylorMade P750 (3-PW; Nippo NS Pro Modus 3 Tour 130X shafts)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM8 (52 degrees; Nippon NS Pro Modus 3 Tour 130X shaft), Titleist Vokey WedgeWorks (58T degrees; Nippon NS Pro Modus 3 Tour 130X shaft)
Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 11.5
Ball: TaylorMade 2021 TP5x (#85)
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