GolfWRX is member published and that means you can join and share your opinions. Last week a member started a rumor that he heard Rory McIlroy is headed to Nike Golf for 250 million dollars over 10 years. Click here to see that post in the forums.

As the friendship between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods has flourished in recent weeks, so too have the rumors on GolfWRX that McIlroy will join Woods as a Nike Golf athlete next year.

Imagine Woods and McIlroy playing together in the final pairing of The Masters, both sporting Nike swooshes. While the scenario seemed impossible when Woods was the only golfer who enjoyed major media coverage, McIlroy’s dominating performances in the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship have brought him to a level of stardom that only Woods can best.

McIlroy currently has an apparel deal with Oakley and is a brand ambassador for Titleist/Footjoy and Jumeriah Hotels & Resorts — a Dubai-based international luxury hotel chain. But all of these deals were signed before McIlroy vaulted to stardom, which means that he and his management company may be looking to cash in on his increased value.

While it is only a rumor for now, a McIlroy-Nike Golf partnership makes sense for both parties. Here are five reasons why we might see McIlroy make a move to Nike Golf in the near future:

No. 1: Nike Golf needs another top-ranked golfer

Unfortunately for Woods and Nike Golf, it’s not 2008 anymore. Woods is no longer an unrivaled force in golf and his continued injury problems put the length of his legendary career in jeopardy. And while Woods is still easily the most popular golfer on the planet, his scandal has hurt his popularity. More importantly it has also seemed to shake the confidence that earned him 14 major championship titles.

Of Nike Golf’s 12 current PGA Tour athletes, only two players are ranked in the top 50 in the Official Golf World Rankings — Woods (No. 3) and Carl Pettersson (No. 32). You have to go all the way to the No. 110 in the OGWR to find the next top Nike Golf athlete on the PGA Tour, Paul Casey, who has made just two cuts this year. To be fair, Nike also sponsors European Tour members Charl Schwartzel (No. 24), Francesco Molinari (No. 25) and Simon Dyson (No. 48), but they are players are unlikely to impact apparel and equipment sales in the way McIlroy could.

No. 2: Global sports stardom

Name a Titleist-sponsored golfer who has risen to global sports stardom? I’ll wait.

Titleist is seen as an equipment brand for the elite player, a market where the company leads the industry. Few products receive as much buzz on GolfWRX as Scotty Cameron putters and Vokey wedges, and with ProV1 and ProV1X Titleist can also lay claim as the undisputed golf ball champion of the world. But it is not a brand that can lead to global sports stardom, a practice Nike has written the book on.

We love Titleist Brand Ambassador Adam Scott, but he’s no Phil Mickelson. He’s not even Ernie Els. McIlroy has the potential to be bigger than both Mickelson and Els. And while he’ll probably never be Lebron James or Dwayne Wade, with Nike and mentor Woods he can certainly be marketed in a similar way as Nike’s biggest star in tennis, Roger Federer.

No. 3: Commercials

Remember the Nike Golf Anthony Kim 20Xi golf ball commercials? They were beautiful while they lasted.

Kim has fallen off the face of the golf world since winning the 2010 Shell Houston Open. Because of injuries to his elbow, wrist and thumb, the one-time golf phenomenon earned less than $34,000 in 10 events in 2012, and he was forced to go under the knife in July after injuring his achilles tendon while sprinting.

A marketing campaign of Woods and Kim was obviously from the get go — at one time they were two of the most energetic, entertaining athletes in golf. But a Woods-McIlroy TV spot would be even better, and would likely rival the Tiger-Frank commercials that became instant classics. Combine Woods’ pedigree and sense of humor with McIlroy’s youth, honestly and charm and you have a hit, folks.

No. 4: Products that match

Nike Golf markets its tour players as athletes, not golfers. McIlroy’s physique and unbelievable clubhead speed gel perfectly with the company’s image. He’s also a natural fit to be dressed head to toe in Nike Golf’s athlete-minded golf apparel.

As far as golf equipment, McIlroy uses a bag full of clubs that are very similar to what Woods uses. He prefers blade irons, one of Nike Golf’s most highly acclaimed products. Nike Golf also convinced Woods, one of the best putters and wedge players of all time, to switch to its wedges and putter, as well its driver and fairway woods. For the right amount of money Nike could probably convince McIlroy to do the same.

No.5: McIlroy has changed courses before

McIlroy surprised many when he jumped ship from Chubby Chandler’s ISM sports management agency in favor of the Dublin-based Horizon Sport Management group in Nov. 2011. Chandler managed one of McIlroy’s childhood heros, Darren Clarke, as well as friend Lee Westwood, making the decision to leave even tougher on McIlroy. But McIlroy said he felt Chandler was leading him “down the wrong path.”

McIlroy always wanted to play the PGA Tour, but under the guidance of Chandler and Westwood the Northern Irishman did not join the Tour in 2011 and skipped The Players Championship that year in favor of the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain. McIlroy later said that he regretted not joining the PGA Tour and skipping The Players.

There are hurdles to McIlroy migrating from his current sponsors, such as the length of his current contracts, but just like a round of golf can quickly change its course, so too can endorsement deals on the PGA Tour. Consider Rickie Fowler’s move from Titleist to Cobra-Puma last year. Fowler completely altered the direction of the former Acushnet-owned brand, making them a serious player among the major OEMs. McIlroy could take a brand like Nike Golf, a company that started out much like Cobra-Puma in its infancy, and grow it to the level of a company like TaylorMade-Adidas with the help of Woods.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments here, or in the “Tour/Pre-release forum.”

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz or GolfWRX @GolfWRX.

Your Reaction?
  • 0
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Previous articleCobra AMP Forged: Member Review
Next articleGolf WRX or Golf works or golfworks? How do you pronounce it?
Zak is the Managing Editor of GolfWRX.com.

He's been a part of the company since 2012, when he was hired to develop GolfWRX's front page. Since that time, GolfWRX has become the go-to destination on the web for golf equipment news, tour news, instruction and opinion.

Zak also developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers who want to improve their skills and allows established golf professionals to communicate directly with readers.

He played college golf at the University of Richmond, and competes in tournaments as a professional.

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

60 COMMENTS

  1. I think PHIL got it right when he said “all those years ago”, if Tiger was to play with decent equipment, just think how good he would really be. It will destroy McIlroys game using Nike clubs.

  2. Team Nike for Rory, Nick Watney…and a few other players to be named later. He will still win with Nike clubs and they will have the most technologically advanced driver on the market in 2013. Schwartzel just demolished Asia with “inferior clubs” that Phil jealous Mickelson is referring to. Watch Nike explode in 2013 with wins all over the PGA Tour…..

  3. Wow, don’t some of you look just rediculous! “Rors” (like you say Jordan, are you all his good friends) just announced this morning that he will be signing a deal with NIKE GOLF in the range of the 10 million (according to SportsCenter). Rory wants SO much to be like Tiger Woods, of course he went with Nike. Shame on all of you for thinking you know something about the golf business…. fools.

  4. I hear that to be true this week, Taylormade offered him a deal over the Olympics when Dustin, Justin and Sergio were hitting balls in the Thames but Nike have blown their deal….rumour is its excess of $30 Million a year

  5. I love it how some of you are calling Rory “Rors” like you are best friends. Do you guys kick it at his house and talk about future plans and contracts? Hit up the bumper cars? You guys make me laugh. “Rors wouldn’t do that”. Oh..okay? Text him and tell him what we’re saying, k? Haha

    As for the contract goes, that would be awesome. Suck for Titleist. But imagine the marketing Nike could have. Imagine a “RM” forged blade? No, wait, a “Rors” forged blade. Yup. Sold! Haha

  6. You can’t keep arguing, and throwing out different reasons why it won’t happen and that it isn’t going to happen. But I GUARANTEE you, he signs with Nike within the next year (probably sooner than later). Got word from our Nike reps in the area where they produce all Nike tour clubs.

  7. When Rors was with ISM there was talk that Taylor Made & Nike were in a bidding war to sign Rors. But having resigned with Titleist it wont happen for another 2.5 years at least. So no Rors will not be playing Nike next year.

  8. Rory is a fine young man and has made good choices during his young career. I hope he’s not going to change because of the large monies that have ruined all sports today.

  9. Nike has way to much money to spend now, after the jersey switch for the NFL also. i wouldnt be surprised if the bought canada and called it Northern Nike!!!!

    • As a canadian, and a Nike fan, using nike irons in my bag, and nike shoes on the track, (best track spike in the world barre none) I would be fine with this, so long as they gave me a discount on gear.

  10. Method putters are the finest craftsmanship the putter Market can offer. I’ve had many scottys and now am the happiest I’ve ever been using the method 001. Class

  11. I have a been loyal Nike fan for the past 8 years fsince my first set of pro combos. I currently play the vr pro limited, Dymo 3 wood and Vr pro ltd 5 wood with VR forged irons and wedges.To each his own but how can you have an educated opnion on something if you have never tried it.

    I also saw comments on “Chasing the Money”. I would like to know what they would do if someone offered you 3 or 4 times their salary to try something diffrerent? Say no. I am not working for money. These make their living playing golf and have to make the best financial decision for them.

    JUST ENJOY THE RIDE!! The equipment with he top brands offer the same quality

  12. In regards to the people thinking that Nike golf equipment is garbage, Nike has 2 of the top 3 forgers in the world. Number one being of course Mr Miura. David Franklin is a close second, but has nowhere near the publicity Miura has gotten, given Miura created his own business.

  13. I agree with this article, titliest has not sponsored athletes or golfers for that matter that has even come close to the level of global stardom that Nike has produced for its athletes. For example, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Bo Jackson, Lance Armstrong, Etc
    Titliest?…….Mind still draws a blank. Plus Titliest has no where close to the kind of money Nike is willing pay its athletes. If the rumor of 250 million for 10 years is correct for Rory, he would be stupid not to say yes.

  14. If you ACTUALLY think Tiger uses anything but Nike clubs (i.e. cloned titty or mizzy clubs) then you haven’t a clue. I’ve even heard people say his putter isn’t a method, its a painted scotty. LOL you guys are clowns.

  15. In regards to number 4 and Nike convincing Tiger to use their wedges and putter. Im not one to think equipment makes people better or worse its more swing and technique but Tiger use to be the best putter, mayb ever, and one of the best wedge players, after switching to nike garbage, his putter and wedge game has been aweful. most likely whats keeping him from playing Tiger like golf. The method putter is better for slow greens and long, slow strokes which is obvious by Tigers lack of making putts. His firm stroke and aggressive speed dont match up with the method putter. When it comes to wedges and putters Scotty and Vokey are the best,

  16. I have to agree with Andrew, Nike clubs have come a long way and after playing with a few, i wouldn’t mind putting them in play. Honestly, Nike started off with such a bad reputation among lower handicap players that people still assume Nike clubs are garbage. Just because Nike invests more than the next brand in marketing their equipment does not automatically mean they lack in performance.

  17. Dear Andrew, I did not intend to say that Titleist clubs are for everybody. My old 681’s have been with me since I was 15 and I still can find a chik hotter than them (not to mention my fellow club members). I do find enlightning your post. It quite confirms my point.
    Cheers,
    S

  18. Sebastian…you obviously must be an expert in everything. I am a 2 handicap player and play with nike forged irons as well as the VR 3 wood. I play Ping Anser Driver. The feel on the irons are completely different. I’ve played Titleist 690’s and also AP1’s…Nike are just as forgiving and make me a better golfer.
    Maybe you should play a few rounds before you blow your wad on something you clearly don’t understand.

    Rory is a phenominal talent and should stick to his roots. If he wants to get paid for it, why not? He’s clearly the next generation of greatness for the world of golf.

  19. No, Chazz. I quite agree with you.

    I just intended to make a point on what I consider to be important in deciding which clubs I play (i.e. performance, performance, performance) and what I just consider rubbish (i.e. advertising and endorsements).

    Cheers!

  20. It would be a smart move for Nike to sign up Rory. After all, they have Kobe and Lebron on the same ticket. Nike would love to stick it to Oakley too. Adidas/TM may be a player in this game. Notice who his girlfriend plays for. Maybe Nike should sign up both!

  21. C’mon! TW uses a cloned Titleist set (with the Nike stamp, of course, BUT they are still a cloned Titleist set) and his fortune with the money-maker club has gone anywhere south since he stoped using his long-mate Scotty’s newport 2…
    In the past, Tiger dominated the game because of his putting and, ABOVE ALL, because of the aura of superiority he used to take to the course (both of them, have been long lost in the mists of time…). All in all, I don’t know a single golfer with a one-digit handicap that would spend a dollar on Nike clubs (or balls), even if TW, Rors, the Queen of England, his mom and mistress, all together, would ask him to give them a try…