Centroid Investment Partners has quietly become a major player in the golfing industry, a rise marked by last week’s announcement by TaylorMade of a new clothing line with Tiger Woods.

Founder Jinhyeok Jeong is already looking for his next deal. Centroid — which bought TaylorMade in 2021 — is currently raising a $500 million fund, and is in the early stage of reviewing a U.S. company for acquisition, potentially worth over $1 billion, he said in an interview.

“We want to acquire a globally renowned company like TaylorMade,” said Jeong.

Centroid’s rise was capped with the launch last week with Tiger Woods of Sun Day Red, the apparel line that will debut in May. Woods already plays with TaylorMade clubs, having first joined forces with the brand in 2017.

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in Seoul, Centroid has 2.7 trillion won (about $2 billion) under management. Its small staff of about 20 have backgrounds including JPMorgan (NYSE: JPM), Oliver Wyman and healthcare firm Seegene Inc. Jeong formerly worked at Macquarie and IMM Investment. Centroid is backed by major local pension funds such as MG Community Credit Cooperatives.

After a start focusing on small local companies, it began a golfing deal spree in 2021 with the $1.7 billion takeover of TaylorMade. During the same year, it bought South Springs Country Club, a prestigious Korean golf course, and in 2022 it joined forces with Clearlake Capital and bought Concert Golf, a boutique operator of more than 25 private golf and country clubs in the U.S. It also owns a significant stake in Popstroke, Woods’ golf entertainment business, via a 2023 deal by TaylorMade. 

Centroid wasn’t always taken seriously. It struggled to get investment bankers to advise on its takeover of TaylorMade because of its small size, Jeong said.

Just after it sealed the deal, Jeong visited a Dick’s Sporting Goods close to TaylorMade’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. 

“I had a chance to talk with a store clerk about this and that regarding golf clubs,” said Jeong. “Suddenly store clerk said ‘Oh, did you know TaylorMade just recently got acquired by a Korean firm?’”

“‘That’s me,’ I said. But the store clerk didn’t believe me.”

Centroid is betting that Woods still has marketing power to build out TaylorMade’s apparel line and turn Sun Day Red into a lifestyle brand like Lululemon, which began as a yogawear company and has since enticed shoppers globally with leggings and other sportswear that sell at a premium price.

The new line, named after Woods’ tradition of wearing a red shirt during the final round of tournaments, plans to eventually expand into footwear and clothing for women and kids. It will initially be sold online in the U.S. and Canada, and will launch in Korea in 2025.

Golfing equipment makers benefited from a pandemic boom and then the shock announcement last year that the PGA Tour was holding talks with Saudi-backed rival LIV Golf about a possible deal.

“Our hypothesis is that the golf industry is difficult to enter,” Jeong said, “but if you enter, it is definitely locked in well because it costs a lot of money and you have to spend a lot of time playing.”

Centroid is not the only South Korean firm striking U.S. golf deals. Last year Creatz Inc., a golf simulator company, acquired Evnroll Putters, a Carlsbad, Calif.-based golf putter brand. In 2022, Voice Caddie, a maker of golf course rangefinders, bought Michigan-based putter and grip maker SuperStroke, with backing from private equity firm Daol PE.

And interest in golf is still growing. A record number of rounds were played in the U.S. in 2023. The number of young golfers is also increasing, according to a report from the National Golf Foundation.

Jeong is hopeful that the potential deal between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf can spur new interest in the sport. 

“Golfers like Rory Mcllroy and Dustin Johnson have softened their views on LIV so we, too, maybe can have constructive talks with PIF near future,” he said.

As for TaylorMade, “an IPO is one of our exit strategies but not the only option,” said Jeong, “just one of them.”