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Fairhaven, MA (January 20, 2003) - Easy does it again in Hawaii. Titleist’s newest brand ambassador, Ernie Els, made it a perfect 2 for 2 to start the 2003 PGA Tour season, following up his record-setting performance at last week’s Mercedes Championships with a dramatic playoff victory at the Sony Open. Els, who trusts the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball and a bag filled with new Titleist equipment, becomes the first player in 14 years to start a PGA Tour season with consecutive wins. Two weeks. Two wins. Over $1.8 million in earnings. For most players, it’s a great year, for Ernie it’s a great start.

Els, who has played Titleist golf balls throughout his illustrious professional career, earned his 40th career victory with the win at Sony. He has expanded his multi-year relationship with Acushnet Company to continue playing Titleist golf balls, as well as Titleist golf clubs and wearing FootJoy shoes. His winning bag includes a Titleist Pro V1x prototype golf ball, Titleist Titanium 983K prototype driver (9.5 degrees), Titleist 980 prototype fairway metal (15.0 degrees), Titleist Forged 690MB irons (3-PW), Scotty Cameron by Titleist Studio Stainless Newport putter, Titleist Players glove and FootJoy shoes. As with all of its high performance products, Titleist validates its prototype equipment in the ultimate testing setting, by the world’s best players on the PGA Tour and the worldwide professional tours. Player performance and feedback is instrumental in deciding if and when these products reach the marketplace.

''I’m really impressed with the new Titleist Pro V1 golf ball,'' said Els from Hawaii. ''It spins a little less around the greens for me and I like that. And I get the perfect trajectory with my new driver. The two seem to be a match made in heaven.

As for my new Forged 690MB clubs, I couldn’t be more thrilled with them. My Scotty Cameron by Titleist putter has a lovely soft feel off the face. I felt very comfortable with that on the greens in Hawaii. It’s a good sign of things to come.''

Els continued his torrid start with his new equipment by capturing the Sony Open in Hawaii with a stunning 43-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole. Starting the final round two strokes behind the leader, Els fired a 3-under par 67 to earn the playoff spot and an opportunity for his second straight win. Last week, Els posted a record-breaking 31-under performance at the season-opening Mercedes Championships, setting a new 72-hole PGA Tour record for lowest score in relation to par by three shots. For the second consecutive week, Els led the tournament field in the key statistical categories of birdies (21), driving distance (315.8), driving accuracy (60.7%), and greens in regulation (79.2%). Els, who was the only player to shoot four consecutive rounds in the 60s at the Mercedes Championships continued his scorching scoring streak with rounds of 67-66-65-66 at the Sony Open. He is 47-under par through his first eight rounds of the year.


#1 BALL IN GOLF: Titleist was the number one golf ball choice among the Sony Open in Hawaii field with 78 players, more than three times the nearest competitor with 23. In addition to Els’ success, Chris DiMarco and Jerry Kelly gave Titleist Pro V1 players three of the top five finishers for the second consecutive week. Els, Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen finished among the top five at the Mercedes Championships last week. The scene was similar on the PGA European Tour, where 98 players relied upon Titleist, nearly four times more than the nearest competitor with 26.

PLAYOFF PROWESS: In addition to Els’ heroics at the Sony Open in Hawaii on the U.S. PGA Tour, Mark Foster captured the PGA European Tour’s Alfred Dunhill Championship with an eagle on the second hole of a 6-man playoff. Foster, who started the day three strokes behind the leader, fired a final round 4-under par 68 to earn one of the playoff positions. He sank a 40-foot putt for the victory after reaching the par 5 18th hole in two.

FAST STARTS: Three players posted back to back top 10s for the start of the 2003 season, all of them relying upon the Titleist Pro V1 golf ball for their success. In addition to Els’ two first-place finishes, Chris Riley finished tied for 6th and 7th and Jerry Kelly finished tied for 10th and tied for 4th, at the Mercedes Championships and Sony Open, respectively.

DiMARCO BREAKS INTO TOP 10: Titleist Pro V1 loyalist Chris DiMarco fired a final round 4-under par 66 at the Sony Open, missing the playoff by two strokes. His third place finish vaulted him from No. 12 to No. 9 in the World Rankings. Titleist golf ball players now occupy 7 of the top 10 positions in the World Rankings, including Els (No. 2), Phil Mickelson (No. 3), Retief Goosen (No. 4), David Toms (No. 5), Vijay Singh (No. 7), DiMarco and Davis Love III (No. 10). DiMarco will look to defend his Phoenix Open championship this week.

CLUB TITLEIST: While Ernie Els was finding early-season success with his new Titleist equipment, his playoff partner also featured a full complement of 14 Titleist golf clubs in his bag. The PGA Tour rookie relies upon a Titleist Pro Titanium 975JVS driver (9.5), Titleist Pro Trajectory 3-wood (15.0), Titleist Forged irons (2-PW), Vokey Design sand (56) and lob (60) wedges and a Scotty Cameron by Titleist prototype putter. Once again, Titleist led the putter count with 60 players compared to 36 for the nearest competitor in the first full field event of the year.

SHOW ME THE MONEY: With his Sony Open victory, Ernie Els surpassed $17 million in PGA Tour career earnings, moving into fifth place on the all-time list. Els jumped out to a commanding lead in the ''PGA TOUR West Coast Swing presented by The St. Paul'' standings, posting 200 points for his two victories. The 2002 PGA TOUR West Coast Swing encompasses the season's first nine tournaments, concluding at the Accenture Match Play Championship/Chrysler Classic of Tucson.

Titleist, FootJoy and Cobra comprise the major golf brands of the Acushnet Company, an operating company of Fortune Brands, Inc. (NYSE - FO). For more information, please visit us online at, or contact Joe Gomes, Director of Communications (508.979.3211).

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