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Golfer Sam Ryder the face of Ryder System ads after famous hole-in-one

Logistics giant launches marketing campaign around PGA golfer who had ace on renowned hole

Golfer Sam Ryder is now a spokesman for Ryder System (Photo: Ryder)

It is arguably the most famous hole in U.S. golf.

OK, maybe it’s the second most famous, after the 17h hole island green of the TPC-Sawgrass course near Jacksonville, Florida.

But the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale near Phoenix is famous not for its layout, which isn’t particularly notable. It’s famous because every year on Super Bowl weekend, when the course hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the par-3 16th hole is surrounded by thousands of seats of grandstands, and all the normal rules of watching PGA golf are out the window. 

Stay quiet? No, yell as much as you want, though it would be good if you shut up on the players’ backswing. Behave maturely? Yeah, right; a good chunk of the crowd consumes enough alcohol to supply the crowds in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, with some left over. Caddies casually strolling down the course to the green from the tee after their players tee off? No, they have a race. 

And that hole now has a tie with the logistics space, as Ryder (NYSE: R) has signed pro golfer Sam Ryder to be a marketing spokesman — all because of something he did on No. 16 last year.

During the tournament in 2022, Sam Ryder stuck a shot close to the pin on 16. It drifted left and dropped in the cup for a hole-in-one.

It wasn’t even the only ace during last year’s tournament. Carlos Ortiz had one too.

But Ortiz doesn’t share the same name as a leading logistics company. Sam Ryder does.

And as a result, the day before this year’s version of the WM Phoenix Open kicks off, Ryder System announced that it was going to mount an advertising and marketing campaign with Sam Ryder at its core.

His golf shirt will carry the Ryder logo. He has filmed a series of advertisements that have him questioning why Ryder would be interested in backing Sam Ryder, who has never won on the PGA Tour and who can only be described as a “journeyman.” (But let’s note here: If you have your PGA Tour card, as he does, you’re pretty darn good. And Sam Ryder tied for fourth at the Farmers Insurance Open at the end of January. That is a highly competitive tournament on the Torrey Pines golf course near San Diego, where a guy named Woods learned to play.)

“It also includes a series of humorous television, print, and digital ads which follow Sam Ryder as he explores why the logistics company has taken an interest in him and what he can contribute to the new relationship,” Ryder said in a prepared statement launching the Sam Ryder campaign. “Surely, it’s more than just his namesake, isn’t it?”

In that statement, Karen Jones,  Ryder’s CMO and head of new product development, said the logistics giant had been eyeing expanding its marketing into professional golf. “The sport is closely watched and followed by our B2B target audience, and there are a lot of synergies between golf and business,” Jones said in the statement. “But we were also looking for someone who shares similar values. We finally found that in Sam. He has a fierce determination, and he acts with integrity. We like that.”

Ryder’s prepared statement can be viewed here, and along with it, some of the video advertisements that are being launched. All have the theme of Sam Ryder’s bafflement as to why he has been chosen as Ryder’s spokesman.

Certainly when that ball dropped in the cup on No. 16 last year at TPC Scottsdale after a roughly 125-yard sand wedge shot, Sam Ryder could not have envisioned the positive fallout from it when the wild beer showers from the raucous crowd finally stopped. Now he’s a logistics frontman.

Stephanie Wicky, vice president of marketing for Ryder, will be on FreightWaves TV’s Drilling Deep, to be released Feb. 17. She will talk about the Ryder-Ryder link.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.