Open champion Francesco Molinari is part of a growing trend in golf of top players giving up endorsement money for more control over their game

Harry How/Getty ImagesThe winners of the past three majors, Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka, and Patrick Reed, have all had one thing in common: the freedom to fill their bag however they want.
  • Francesco Molinari made history on Sunday, becoming Italy’s first major champion by winning the British Open.
  • Molinari’s win came without an endorsement deal for his clubs aside from his putter, making him the third consecutive major champion to win without a sponsor dictating his club selection.
  • Passing up sponsorship deals gives players more flexibility when it comes to filling out their bags, and it’s possible that more players will follow suit.

Francesco Molinari made history on Sunday, becoming Italy’s first major champion after fending off Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and a slew of other heavy hitters to win the British Open and take home the Claret Jug.

Molinari’s game was exceptional, playing bogey-free for the final two rounds en route to a win over the field by two strokes. The win was even more impressive considering he did it while playing alongside Woods, one of the most intimidating golfers to be paired with when in contention.

Molinari’s win also continued a trend among major winners this year: playing with a mixed bag. As PGATour.com’s Jonathan Wall noted, while Molinari has an endorsement deal with Bettinardi for his putter, he could fill the rest of his bag to his liking, as he is a free agent when it comes to his clubs.

The same has been true of the previous two major winners.Brooks Koepka took home the US Open with a bag that included a TaylorMade driver and woods, Nike and Mizuno irons, and Titleist wedges, and Patrick Reed won the green jacket at the Masters playing with a Ping driver and a mix of Nike, Titleist, Callaway, and more filling out the rest of his bag.

Aside from his Bettinardi putter, Molinari was playing with TaylorMade clubs at Carnoustie, but that doesn’t take away from the most important aspect of being sponsor-free when it comes to filling your bag: the freedom to choose. As Jason Sobel wrote for The Action Network, there’s a chance the trend becomes more widespread as the season goes on.

There’s hardly an easier check to cash in golf than sponsorship deals, and as long as you’re playing regularly on tour, these partnerships can, in some cases, surpass the value of what some players would win for making the cut at a tournament.

That said, every stroke matters when attempting to win the biggest tournaments in the world, and as this recent run of majors has shown, for some players a mixed bag might be the best way to get to the top of the leaderboard and be even more valuable to potential sponsors in the future.

The winners of the past three majors have now beaten their respective fields with the help of a mixed bag and the freedom to choose the best clubs for them in every situation. While that might seem like leaving an easy check on the table, don’t be surprised if you see more players doing the same.

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