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News You May Have Missed: February 2024 - Australian Golf Digest News You May Have Missed: February 2024 - Australian Golf Digest

Aussie of the month: Jason Day

The Sentry, as it’s called now after formerly being known as the Tournament of Champions, never fails to attract a wide variety of headlines. That is particularly true for the equipment and apparel corners of the golf industry, as PGA Tour pros use the relaxed nature of the Maui event and Kapalua’s forgiving course to try out new clubs and looks. 

Seven years ago, your columnist can remember Jason Day arriving at Kapalua dressed head-to-toe in Nike having left adidas. Day arrived at the 2024 edition with another big apparel change – he had signed with the much-hyped Los Angeles brand, Malbon Golf, to be the company’s first ever tour pro ambassador.

You may or may not have heard of Malbon Golf, which was founded by Erica Malbon, a luxury spa co-founder, and Stephen Malbon, owner of a street-style magazine and creative agency. Malbon is a chic lifestyle golf brand that has somehow tapped into the grey area between hip and ‘bougie’. It’s cool enough that hipsters go nuts for Malbon, but classy enough that wealthy Americans (and even savvy, culture-craving Australian golfers) also buy their products. Malbon is big on retro jumpers, baggy pants and bucket hats. Malbon champions the idea of collaborating with brands like Nike, Jones golf bags, Dormie Workshop headcovers, FootJoy and even Champion sweaters.

Day’s official Instagram account posted, “It’s a New Day,” in announcing his signing with Malbon at the Sentry. His outfits at there were mild and stylish, debuting round one with a relaxed fit white shirt, beige pants and green-saddled FootJoy shoes. Round two was more adventurous, with a baggy blue pants featuring Malbon’s logo – a golf ball with eyes – as well as a blue retro golf shirt and cool sunnies. It worked well for Day, who was tied for the lead early in the final round, ultimately finishing T-10 at Kapalua.

After teaming with New Zealand superstar Lydia Ko to win the Grant Thornton Invitational in Florida in December, the early signs suggest it could well be “a new Day” we’re witnessing return his way to the top in 2024.

WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC…

It’s not Australian, but rather another Nike star. A day before this magazine went to print, Tiger Woods joined his friend Day in leaving the American shoe giant. Woods announced on January 9 that he was ending his association with the world-famous company founded in Beaverton, Oregon, by Phil Knight. Woods signed with Nike as he turned professional in 1996. Since then, Woods’ trademark uniform for every Sunday final round – red shirt and black pants – became synonymous with Nike. He starred in some of the most recognisable sports commercials in advertising history, while Nike starred in arguably Woods’ most iconic moment – when Woods’ ball hung on the edge of the cup and flashed the Nike swoosh during a chip-in for birdie on the par-3 16th hole at Augusta National during his 2005 Masters victory.

“Phil Knight’s passion and vision brought this Nike and Nike Golf partnership together and I want to personally thank him, along with the Nike employees and incredible athletes I have had the pleasure of working with along the way,” Woods posted to social media.

With Day and Woods gone, rumours abound for what the future holds not only for Woods, but for Nike Golf.

Bogey of the month: Our wet summer

“What El Nino?” That’s what some golf course superintendents along the east coast were asking during the first week or so of January as South-East Queensland and areas of Victoria, in particular, were thumped by heavy deluges. Cyclonic conditions battered the, ahem, “Sunshine” State while up to 145 millimetres of rain fell in parts of Victoria. There were definitely more brollies than birdies witnessed on golf courses in those regions that week.

Aussie Headliners

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR ENDYCOTT: Sydneysider Harrison Endycott had lost his PGA Tour card after his rookie season in 2022-2023. He entered the first Qualifying School the top US circuit had held in more than 10 years in a unique position: Endycott had finished 129th on the FedEx Cup rankings last season and was teeing up at Q-School with the comfort of conditional status (12 to 16 tournament starts in 2024) via the 126-150 category. The 27-year-old shot four rounds in the 60s for a 15-under par total of 265 and won the event by four shots. Card regained. We’ll be watching Endycott, who is now based in Nashville, Tennessee, with his fiancé, on the PGA Tour in 2024.

MAKING THE BIG TIME: Australians Robyn Choi and Hira Naveed were also successful at Q-School, with both locking up LPGA Tour cards for 2024. Choi earned back her status by winning her qualifying event by three shots at Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. Naveed, who was playing from the Epson Tour, guaranteed her promotion to the big stage when she carded a final round of 65 to climb 28 spots on the leaderboard, finishing 15th. 

THE NEW AWESOME FOURSOME: Cameron Percy was medallist at PGA Tour Champions (over-50s tour) Qualifying School, while three other Australians grabbed four of the five fully exempt cards for the 2024 season at Final Stage in Scottsdale, Arizona. Percy [third from left, above], who won by five shots, was joined by Michael Wright [left], Steve Allan [second from left] and David Bransdon [right].

YOU LIV AND YOU LEARN: Eleven Aussies teed up in the LIV Golf Promotions event in Abu Dhabi, although none were successful in securing one of three LIV Golf spots open for 2024. 

Getty images: Michael Reaves, Cameron Percy