WME | IMG today announced the acquisition of golf talent agency Icon Sports Management, further strengthening the company’s roster of sports clients and golf expertise.
Icon’s golf client, consulting and hospitality business, led by President and CEO R.J. Nemer, the agency’s founder, will be absorbed into the golf division at WME | IMG. Icon, currently based in Stow, Ohio,represents world No. 2 Henrik Stenson and Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter, as well as PGA TOUR winners including Fred Funk (eight wins), Carl Pettersson (five), Kevin Streelman (two) and more. It also serves Mutual of Omaha and other major corporate clients.
Guy Kinnings, Global Head of Golf at IMG, said, “Together with our partners at WME, we are delighted to welcome R.J. Nemer and key members of his team to our group. Over the past two decades, Icon has blossomed into a premier agency with the respect of everyone in the golf industry. Today’s announcement further signals the growth that our golf division has enjoyed recently, and we are excited to carry this momentum through 2015 and beyond.”
Nemer, who will continue to represent Stenson, Poulter and others on a global basis, will become IMG’s Senior Vice President and Head of Golf Clients, Americas and oversee IMG men’s and women’s golf clients. In this new role, he’ll be responsible for expanding and managing IMG’s golf client base in North America, and he and key members of the Icon staff will work from the IMG office in Cleveland.
“We’re tremendously excited to leverage the collective strengths of our combined team as we continue to grow our brand both nationally and globally,” said Nemer. “I am particularly pleased that we will be based in Northeast Ohio, where the innovative and inspirational Mark McCormack – a personal hero of mine – planted the seed for what has become a global industry.”
In the last 14 months, IMG has added top-ranked golf clients including four-time PGA TOUR winner and Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed, world No. 18 Hideki Matsuyama and LPGA Rookie of the Year Lydia Ko.
Additional signings include 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, major champion and top American money winner Cristie Kerr, No. 1 female amateurs Brooke Henderson and Minjee Lee, and rising European Tour players Renato Paratore of Italy, Eddie Pepperell of England and Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand.
This appointment, furthered by WME’s expertise across entertainment, media and digital, adds additional strength to the senior golf team in North America. Clarke Jones will remain on IMG's golf client team while shifting his main focus to the company's growing golf consulting business in North America. The IMG North American golf events division, which operates the Honda Classic, ANA Inspiration, Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic and PNC Father/Son Challenge, will continue to be led by Ken Kennerly.