Jon Rahm’s surprise showing, Ludvig Aberg’s new caddie, Xander Schauffele’s clothing deal

Tom Kim walks on Kapalua course in front of Sentry signage and ocean

Tom Kim is kicking off the season at this week's Sentry.

Getty Images

Golf is back.

Well, almost back.

It’s been a proper offseason for the PGA Tour; we’ve only seen selective appearances from the game’s top stars since the Tour Championship wrapped last August.

Some of ’em showed up at Kapalua this week looking different. Scottie Scheffler, for instance, showed up with a full beard, while Cameron Young rolled in without any beard at all and Sam Burns has officially ditched his mullet. There are new clothes on their back, new shoes on their feet, new clubs in their bags, new caddies on their bags, too.

Before the actual golf starts, then, here are a few little changes and observations from early-week action at the Sentry.

Jon Rahm is here.

No, he’s not at the tournament. But he’s not far away, either! Jon Rahm’s plans to defend his Sentry title took a sideways turn when he joined LIV Golf in December. But his plans to spend this time on Maui apparently did not, as Rahm and his family have spent the week vacationing nearby, playing golf and running into his former Tour peers, as confirmed by several people at the Sentry on Tuesday.

The vacation plans of pro golfers are rarely newsworthy, but the fact that the PGA Tour is about to kick off its season and the tournament’s defending champion, who’s now on LIV, is also in town but isn’t playing in the tournament? That’s a strange sign of the times. He’s the only pro from the 2023 Sentry field who has since joined LIV.

Rahm’s presence calls to mind Cameron Smith’s showing at this year’s Players Championship. Smith was the defending Players champ (and the 2022 Sentry Champ, for that matter) but had been suspended after leaving for LIV; on tournament Thursday he teed it up at the Yards just a mile away from TPC Sawgrass.

The obvious difference, of course, is that Smith is a Jacksonville Beach resident and only traveled a few miles to play golf, while Rahm’s trip was significantly longer. It’s just not clear whether he’s sending a message, he found a hotel he really likes or the cancelation fees were just that intimidating…

Ludvig Aberg has a new caddie.

Aberg’s new caddie is Joe Skovron, who you’ll know as Rickie Fowler’s longtime caddie and, more recently, Tom Kim’s caddie. Aberg has played less than one full season on the PGA Tour but has already generated sky-high expectations after winning on the PGA and DP World Tours and impressing as a part of Team Europe at the Ryder Cup.

Skovron’s appearance was no surprise; we learned of the partnership a few weeks ago as Aberg sought a veteran caddie with big-pressure experience and let looper Jack Clarke go.

“For next year, all I’m looking for is more experience in these bigger tournaments,” Aberg told Smylie Kaufman on his podcast.

If the start of this week is all about adjusting to the sights and sounds of a new PGA Tour season, Skovron’s transition from the Nike swoosh of Team Kim to Aberg’s three-stripe getup drove that home.

Tom Kim has a new caddie.

With Skovron departing for a 24-year-old rising star in Aberg, his 21-year-old former boss found a new caddie to fill his Nikes.

That job now belongs to Dan Parratt. Parratt is a veteran caddie with experience across the PGA Tour and DP World Tour; his recent charges have included K.H. Lee and Ben An, while he’s also caddied for Alex Noren and Robert Karlsson.

Tom Kim (right) and his new caddie Dan Parratt.
Tom Kim (right) and his new caddie Dan Parratt. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I spoke to Kim briefly about the pairing and he said there’s been instant comfort with Parratt given the two have known each other for several years.

Kim is coming off a victory in his most recent PGA Tour start, the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas. He has five top-10s and nine top-25s in his last nine starts worldwide.

Cameron Young has a new caddie.

Cameron Young and Paul Tesori have parted ways to start the year. The veteran caddie had joined Young’s team last March, which drew significant attention at the time given Tesori’s success on the bag of Webb Simpson.

In some ways the Young-Tesori partnership mirrored that of Skovron and Kim; both involved rising stars leaning on successful caddie vets. The pair got off to a promising start with a runner-up finish at the WGC-Match Play and a T7 at the Masters. But the rest of the season was below Young’s lofty standards.

Cameron Young showed up in Hawaii with no beard but with new caddie Wayne De Haas.
Cameron Young showed up in Hawaii with no beard but with new caddie Wayne De Haas. Getty Images

This week he has Wayne De Haas on the bag. De Haas hails from South Africa and has a mini-tour playing history that includes wins on the Minor League Golf Tour in south Florida. His caddying experience includes a stint with Ernie Els in 2022; now he’ll kick off the season with Young.

Brendon Todd has a new caddie.

We’ll bring this full circle: Tesori isn’t on Young’s bag but he is in Hawaii for the season opener. That’s because Brendon Todd picked him up off golf’s figurative caddy waiver wire.

Pros are still wearing Nike.

There’s been plenty of speculation about Nike’s future in the golf apparel space — speculation that only increased when Tiger Woods gave a curt reply to a question on the subject at the PNC Championship. Speculation increased when longtime Nike athlete Jason Day showed up in Hawaii wearing Malbon as part of a new deal.

But Nike is hardly gone from the space. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler wore Nike on Tuesday. World No. 11 Tom Kim did, too. Same with No. 14 Tommy Fleetwood. And No. 20 Tony Finau. But still no word on Woods.

Xander Schauffele and Jason Day are wearing new clothes.

Day signed with Malbon, becoming the first Tour pro ambassador for the luxury golf apparel brand.

He wasn’t the only one with a new clothing sponsor: Xander Schauffele showed up wearing Descente, as did his caddie Austin Kaiser. Descente has its background in skiing but has dabbled in golf sponsorship with Danny Willett.

Xander Schauffele (right) and his caddie Austin Kaiser wearing Descente apparel.
Xander Schauffele (right) and his caddie Austin Kaiser wearing Descente apparel. Getty Images

This is Kevin Kisner’s debut.

Kevin Kisner is back at the Sentry this week — but in a different role than he’s accustomed to. The four-time Tour winner will join the network’s booth for its first two big-time broadcasts of the 2024 PGA Tour season, the Sentry and the WM Phoenix Open, in some sort of tryout role for the seat vacated by Paul Azinger.

It’s an ongoing mystery what NBC will do with the seat long-term, with names like Paul McGinley and Geoff Ogilvy also floated in recent weeks. But Kisner will usher in the season for NBC’s primetime broadcast.

We’ll be watching.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/ The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

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