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Els Debuts New Titleist Equipment in Record-Setting Victory at Season-Opening Mercedes Championships

Fairhaven, MA (January 13, 2003) - Ernie Els, made it look easy en route to a record-breaking 31-under performance at the season-opening Mercedes Championships at Kapalua Resort in Maui. In addition to breaking the tournament scoring record by five strokes, Els set a new 72-hole PGA Tour record for lowest score in relation to par by three shots. His wire-to-wire eight-stroke victory was made even more impressive by the fact that it marked the first tournament in which Els played 11 Titleist clubs in competition. Els, who has played Titleist golf balls throughout his illustrious professional career, expanded his multi-year relationship with Acushnet Company to represent the Titleist and FootJoy brands as a full-line ambassador.

''I am excited about how I hit the ball with all my new Titleist clubs this week,'' said Els following the 39th official victory of his career, including his 11th on the PGA Tour. ''I was able to hit long and accurate tee shots with the new Titleist driver. I have never hit a driver this far. On my approach shots, I was able to control and work the ball the way I wanted with my Forged 690MB irons. I also was confident on the greens with my new Cameron putter.''

The limited Mercedes Championships field consisted of 36 winners from the 2002 PGA TOUR who were competing for a $1 million first prize. Not only did Els' performance separate himself from the field on the leaderboard, but he topped all players in virtually every key statistical category including eagles (4), birdies (28), driving distance (323.4 yards), putts per round (28.3) and putts per greens in regulation (1.585). He tied for first in driving accuracy (60%) and greens in regulation (90.3%). Els was the only player to shoot four consecutive rounds in the 60's with scores of 64-65-65-67=261 on the par 73 Plantation Course.

Els' new Titleist bag includes the prototype Titleist Pro V1 golf ball, Titleist Titanium driver (9.5 degrees) and Titleist fairway metal (15.0 degrees), as well as Titleist Forged 690MB irons (3-PW), Scotty Cameron by Titleist Studio Stainless 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.


TOP CHOICE: Titleist was the number one golf ball choice among the field with 18 players, more than three times the nearest competitor with 6. Scotty Cameron by Titleist was the top choice in the putter category with 12 players, while Titleist tied for the top spot in the driver category with 11 players in the field. In addition to Els' success, Titleist golf balls were played by 3 of the top 5 finishers, including Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen, who tied for fourth at 22-under par.

RECORD BREAKER: Els also shattered the 54-hole Mercedes Championships tournament record with a 25-under 194. The previous mark was 21-under 198 set in 1999.

WORLD CLASS: Els vaulted from third to second in the World Rankings following the win, just ahead of fellow Titleist ambassador Phil Mickelson. In addition, Retief Goosen, David Toms and Vijay Singh improved one position each to Nos. 4, 5 and 7, respectively. Davis Love III, who did not participate, remained at World No. 9, giving Titleist 6 players among the Top 10.

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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