In a move that's kind of like breaking up with your girlfriend via text message, Ian Poulter last night announced via Twitter he no longer was affiliated with Cobra-Puma Golf.
So let the guessing games begin.
Educated guesses are often better when they start by eliminating possibilities, so here is where Poulter is unlikely to go. Given the money he may want, Mizuno (which already has Luke Donald to appease its European market) is unlikely. Adams is in transition so rule them out, too.
Two companies that would appear to be a good fit have circumstances that would make a Poulter signing prohibitive. Nike would certainly seem to be a good cultural match, but Nike requires its athletes be head to toe and Poulter, who has his own apparel line, isn't going to don Nike's threads. Ping, which doesn't manufacture golf balls, would allow the Englishman to continue playing Titleist balls (Poulter tweeted his thumbs up of the new prototype Pro V1x), but the Phoenix-based company already has plenty of global strength with players such as Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jimenez, making the addition of another Euro with a big contract in the low probability range.
Callaway certainly has an affinity for star players, but in recent years has taken more of a "Moneyball" approach to its staff (outside of Phil Mickelson), preferring younger and (hopefully) up-and-coming players to round out its roster. The 38-year-old Poulter doesn't appear to fit that bill, either.
So where might he end up? Titleist, because of the ball, is a possibility. In fact, Poulter began his stint with Cobra when the company was owned by the Acushnet Co. But the guess here is Titleist/FootJoy would offer a ball, shoe, glove deal as opposed to a full-line contract.
TaylorMade always is seeking to bolster its tour staff and adding Poulter would be a nice get. But again, any deal there likely would have to include the ball and Poulter might not be willing to make that switch at this stage of his career.
To me the two most intriguing possibilities are Srixon and Wilson. Srixon is making a big effort in clubs in the U.S. in 2015 and needs attention to make those launches successful. They also have money. If they would be willing to let Poulter not play their ball, it would appear a solid route to go.
Wilson is another fascinating option. The company has slowly, but successfully re-built its brand and might be looking to make a splash on tour, especially since its flagship player, Padraig Harrington, hasn't played well in recent years. Add in the global component (Wilson is a highly successful golf brand in Europe) as well as the likelihood they would allow Poulter a ball, shoe, glove deal from Titleist and on the surface this deal works very well for both sides.
Of course, as Poulter tweeted, he'll let us know soon enough.