PGA Tour standouts Kyle Stanley and Nick Watney have entered into a multi-year agreement with Nike Golf, according to company press releases.
Both players signed deals that includes clubs, balls, footwear, glove, apparel, headwear and accessories.
“I love the equipment, Stanley said. “I wouldn’t have switched if I didn’t think it was stuff that would take me to the next level.”
Stanley, 25, previously played Titleist equipment. He was the winner of the 2012 Waste Management Pheonix Open, and is one of the PGA Tour’s brightest young stars, earning more than $2.3 million dollars in 2012 and finishing 31st in the Tour’s FedExCup. He will make his tournament debut this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Stanley said the hardest equipment change for him will be his putter. He played a 2012 schedule that finished at the Australian Open in early December, limiting his practice time with a Method prototype putter that Nike made him. He’s excited about Nike’s VR_S Covert driver and 20XI X golf ball, a combination that he said has given him a 5-mph increase in ball speed, a change that can result in as much as 10 to 20 more yards off the tee.
“I’ve always been a high speed player,” Stanley said. “The ball has a little bit of a harder cover and doesn’t spin as much, which will allow me to be more aggressive with my irons”
Stanley said he feels very comfortable with the equipment changes. In 2013, he hopes to get back in the winner’s circle and take “the next step” — contending in major championships.
Here’s a list of what Stanley plans to play this week in Hawaii:
Driver: Nike VR_S Covert — 9.5 degrees, set in neutral
3 Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition — 15 degrees
Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo 2 iron, VR Pro Blades 3 through 9 iron
Wedges: Nike Pro 52-degree, 56-degree and 60-degree wedges
Ball: Nike 20XI X
Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance
Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II
Stanley attended Clemson University, where he broke 19 school golf records. He was the first player to earn both ACC Player of the Year and ACC Freshman of the Year, and was a three-time first team All-ACC and two-time first-team All-America Selection. He won the Ben Hogan Award, which is given to the top collegiate golfer in the United States, and was also a member of the winning 2007 Walker Cup team.
“Kyle is a solid player with incredible talent,” said Mark Thaxton, global director of sports marketing operations at Nike Golf. “He’s a terrific ball striker with incredible confidence. We know Kyle will shine as a Nike Golf athlete and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Nike family.”
Nick Watney, 31, has won five times on the PGA Tour, most recently at The Barclays in late August and at the CIMB Asia Open in late October. He is currently ranked No. 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings, earning more the $3 million on the PGA Tour in 2012.
Watney said he decided to join Nike Golf because he was pleased with the direction the company is headed. He said he’s also looking forward to being on the same staff with Tiger Woods, and is looking forward to picking his brain.
“Nike Golf is making huge strides and have shown a dedication to move forward with all their stuff,” Watney said.
Like Stanley, Watney moves over from Titleist, and will make his debut as a Nike athlete at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this week. Watney said he is not a “launch monitor guy,” so he wasn’t able to provide data on the performance of his new equipment. But he said he likes the feel and sound of his equipment, particularly his 11.5-degree VR_S Covert driver.
“It looks like nothing else out there, but it feels very stable and sounds like a classic driver,” Watney said.
Watney called his 20XI golf ball “very consistent,” and said the transition from his Titleist AP2 irons to Nike’s Pro Combo irons will be his easiest equipment change.
“I’ve heard all the stories about guys changing equipment, and from my testing over the last couple months, I really feel like it’s not going to be as hard as I expected,” he said. “The guys down at The Oven are very equipped.”
Watney will be using Nike wedges, which aside from the stampings honoring his hometown baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, are almost the same as his Vokey models. He said the Nike Method Prototype putter he will use is the same as his Scotty Cameron putter in every way, with the exception of the Method groove technology on the putter face, and that it feels very similar to his old putter.
Even though Watney won two tournaments in 2012, he said the first half of the season was “not what I was looking for.”
“I’d also like to get off to a better start this year,” Watney said. “As golfers, we’re all judged on winning. I’d like to get into contention as much as I can and win as much as I can.”
Here’s a breakdown on what will be in his bag this week:
Driver: Nike VR_S Covert — 11.5 degrees, neutral position
Fairway Wood: Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood — 14-degrees, Nike VR_S Covert 5-wood — 18 degrees
Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo 3 through PW
Wedges: Nike VR Pro 55-degree and 59-degree wedges
Putter: Nike Method Prototype
Ball: Nike 20XI
Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance Collection
Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II