Nike signs McIlroy to a multi-year deal

by   |   January 14, 2013
Rory McIlroy Nike

Nike has signed Rory McIlroy, the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, to a multi-year contract to use the company’s golf equipment and wear its apparel, hat, glove, footwear and accessories.

The announcement cames from a Nike media event at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship where McIlroy will make his tournament debut as a Nike athlete. Here is the equipment McIlroy will use the following equipment this week:

Driver: Nike VR_S Covert Tour (10.5-degree, neutral setting) with Mitsubishi Diamana prototype 70X shaft
Fairway Woods: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition (15 and 19 degrees)
Long Irons: VR Pro II Blades (3 iron through PW)
Wedges: Nike VR Pro (54 and 60 degrees)
Ball: Nike 20XI X
Putter: Nike Method 006 Prototype
Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance Collection
Footwear: Nike Lunar Control

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release equipment” forum.

rory witb nike

Although the specific terms of the deal were not disclosed, a source close to negotiations for McIlroy said his multi-year contract is worth at least $20 to $25 million per year. Speculation has been rampant that McIlroy would join Nike following his joint announcement with Titleist that he and the company would part ways on Dec. 31, 2012. Additionally, the Jumeriah Hotel Group, whose logo was prominently featured on the North Irishman’s hat, announced that it ended its endorsement deal with McIlroy on Jan. 8.

McIlroy said he’s been practicing with his new Nike gear since before Christmas, and was “blown away” with the research and development that goes into Nike golf equipment. He said the new Nike Covert Tour driver is “awesome,” and that he’s picked up distance with the new driver, increasing his ball speed from the mid 170s to 180 mph.

As expected, McIlroy will change to a Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3 wood and 5 wood, Nike VR Pro irons and wedges. What was not expected was that McIlroy will use one of the company’s Method putters, a prototype 006 model.

“I was blown away by the groove technology,” McIlroy said. “I’m very happy with the new putter.”

McIlroy also said that he was impressed with the company’s 20XI X golf ball, which features a resin core that McIlroy said makes the ball extremely stable in the wind.

Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, who led the media event, said the signing of McIlroy is one of the most excited times at Nike since the company committed to the golf business with the signing of Tiger Woods.

“Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere,” Davis said. “He is the epitome of a Nike Athlete, and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf’s history. We are looking forward to partnering with him to take his remarkable career to the next level.”

At the event, McIlroy emerged from a light show that showed projections of himself and walked down a long runway to hug Davis. He stood by his golf bag in a Nike hat, golf shirt, pullover, shoes and a pair of blue jeans as photographer’s snapped photos. McIlroy then took questions from Davis, as well as from media members who were in attendance. Davis and McIlroy refused to comment on specifics of the deal, and McIlroy would not say if the deal mandated that he used one of the company’s putters.

During the Q&A session, Nike athletes Wayne Rooney (soccer — Manchester United), Roger Federer (tennis) and Tiger Woods welcomed McIlroy to the team with a video message. Nike co-founder and chairman Phil Knight also welcomed McIlroy to the team.

Below is the video as well as photos from the commercial, “No Cup is Safe,” which was previewed at the event.

Tiger and RoryNike golf commercial

McIlroy is biggest of Nike Golf’s five signings in 2013, which include Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley, Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung Yul Noh. Below is a breakdown of their age, countries and Official World Golf Ranking as of Jan. 13, 2013. All the golfers are currently ranked in the top-100 in the OWGR and have an average age below 25.

Rory McIlroy

  • Age: 23
  • Country: Northern Ireland
  • OWGR: 1

Nick Watney

  • Age: 31
  • Country: United States
  • OWGR: 21

Thorbjorn Olesen

  • Age: 23
  • Country: Denmark
  • OWGR: 51

Kyle Stanley

  • Age: 25
  • Country: United States
  • OWGR: 80

Seung Yul Noh

  • Age: 21
  • Country: South Korea
  • OWGR: 99

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour Talk” forum. 

About

Ben writes primarily about the PGA Tour for GolfWRX. Follow him on Twitter for his golf-related ramblings: @BJA_GolfWRX. He aggregates PGA Tour-related news on the Bernard Daily.


28 Comments

  1. Rich

    January 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    Well guys, we all waited for the Rory and Tiger show…… I counted a handful of good shots between them and witnessed some of the poorest drives in tournament golf. A disappointing advert for Nike, although Olesen looks comfortable with his change.

  2. Phil

    January 17, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Titleist and oakley must be having a good laugh after the 1st round in Dubai.

  3. Lee

    January 16, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I agree the ball will be the biggest challenge but then again certain Companies are not adverse to blowing over the logo’s on the Pro V and putting their own branding in place. In fact it’s often done with irons/wedges as well.

  4. chad

    January 16, 2013 at 1:18 am

    This is ALL MARKETING people. He hasn’t hit a shot yet. McIlroy will have to make adjustments to the new equipment but he’s #1 in the world for a reason, so he’ll be fine. Anyone can adjust to a new driver. We all buy a new one every year or two. Blades are blades they’re all pretty similar. The challenge will be the ball. Most pro’s play Titleist ProV’s for a legit reason- they are the classic that they are all used to. That will be the challenge for Rory. But there is no one best equipment company. Golf is all about personal preference and what suits the eye/feel.

  5. ned

    January 16, 2013 at 1:15 am

    Blades are blades- Visually is the only real difference- I rotate 5 sets, with slightly different setups, loft lie, bounce, SW, length, and flex- all spined with different grips. 681′s, with TourX, Staff FG51 tour issue, Maxfli Aussie blk dot, Mp 29′s & 14s w 6.5 & XL100, 695mb Tx1s, and occasionally CG1′s XL100 pga pros.
    Also play 7.0 1025 VIP, and TP Rac Smoke 6.5s, and 680′s dg100-
    The 681 and Fg 51′s, have the best feel- and the Nike Tiger Limited editions are a close third- Rory can handle any blade they throw at him. The Sumo 2 Fw are excellent, almost as long as the r7 tp ts, with better accuracy! FWIW.

  6. Troy Vayanos

    January 15, 2013 at 5:05 pm

    The big question now will be how Rory plays with Nike over 2013. It is a big gamble by Rory changing over from clubs he plays so well.

    It’s amazing to read he says he has already picked up more distance, that’s scary for the rest of world golf.

    There’s going to be a lot of spotlight on every shot he plays this year so I hope the adjustment goes smoothly. He’s such a level headed young man I’m sure the transaction will go fantastic.

    Can’t wait to see him play in 2013!

  7. Spencer

    January 14, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    new VR Pro II Blades??

  8. BizMark

    January 14, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Rory’s equipment change was bound to happen. Both Tiger and Sergio played Titleist clubs in the beginning of their professional careers. Eventually as they got big, Tiger switched to Nike’s and Sergio switched to Taylormade’s. I would argue that Rory’s the same case. The Mcilroy brand is largely expendable and needs to meet a company that matches. Nike is a giant in the marketing world and has the power to make him a not just a golf icon, but a “sports” icon.
    In my opinion, the other reason is actually the equipment. Nike has recently been putting out innovative and quality-made equipment, such as the VRS Covert woods and the Pro Combo irons. The driver/fairway wood’s cavity back design is very creative, and modifying the old combo set resulted in a very sleek successor (especially in the mid-long irons).
    With the company also acquiring Kyle Stanley, Seung Yul Noh, Nick Watney, and Thorbjorn Olesen, it’s apparent that they’ve been growing drastically as a serious competitor in the golfing market.

  9. harrold

    January 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    why does everyone hate on nike equipment, the vr pro blades are just the same as 712′s and are forged in the same factory as muzuno blades. The wedges are forged and are a quality wedge and their woods are now some of the best on the market. Why are golfers determined to hate any brand that isnt titleist, open your eyes to the market.

    • Chris Voshall

      January 15, 2013 at 2:56 pm

      Harrold….They Nike’s are not forged in the same factory as the Mizunos! They are an exclusive Mizuno forging house! And before you ask how I know…it’s because I have been there!

      • Rory's the King

        January 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm

        Chris… Even if you’ve been there don’t mean you know much. Don’t think you listened much in the factory if you did go there. Does Endo ring a bell? nike is an Endo Forged and you couldn’t even tell the difference. Enjoy the Tiger and Rory show.

  10. Tyler

    January 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    There is a difference between the clubs the pros play and the clubs us average joes play. The clubs available in the tour trucks are built to exact tolerances and most are custom fabricated. Not to mention they can use whichever shafts they choose, they aren’t stuck with a proprietary shaft. I think that’s why you see tour pros switching equipment companies every other week without much consequence. Switching to another brand may have been an issue 20 years ago, but these days the technology and manufacturing are mostly identical from one manufacturer to the next so that it really doesn’t bother the pros.

  11. Josh

    January 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    Ummmmm, I do there Nuke.

  12. Nuke LaLoosh

    January 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I’d play Nike for 20 million but I would not pay for it. Have you ever seen anyone beside the pros play Nike stuff?

    • Grim

      January 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      I play Nike stuff and I play it because it is the best equipment for my game.

      The VR LTD woods are long and easy to hit, plus look classic, and I play the VR Pro wedges because I like the set up, they are forged, and the ones I got will rust and look great with my MB2s.

      Half the people who hate on Nike have obviously never tried them or got fit properly.

      • Huge

        January 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm

        .NIKE is without doubt the most technologically advanced equipment out there ..get on it!

    • Blanco

      January 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm

      Yes all the time. Several of the fairways esp. the Sumo 2 is EXTREMELY popular with guys playing for Titleist, PING, TMAG… Non staffers also playing the VR Forged wedges and Method putters.

      You know the media machine has you when you build a rock-solid opinion about something you’ve never tried and know nothing about.

      • Brandell

        January 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm

        Totally agree… People make me laugh. What makes them believe that Nike is the crapy company out there?! I work on the inside of the biz and I’m more likely to think that TMAG is the biggest BS company in the industry! What loads of crap to make consumers think the will gain 17 + 10 With their nice white racing stripped clubs?! Wow! Wake up people, these guys are putting you asleep with their strong pitching wedges and extra inches in shaft lengths! Nike is a dominating Brand in all sports! Face it, realize it and enjoy the show that will unfold in a few days in Abu Dhabi with the two biggest stars of the game!

    • Brandell

      January 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm

      Things will change my friend…. Just wait. You think people play that Ugly white thing for the right reasons. Just remember, Nike is very young in the golf Biz. They will own it before you know it. Just enjoy the show. Starts this weekend.

    • evan

      March 31, 2013 at 1:55 am

      nike makes the best clubs on the market….GET OVER IT

  13. Golfer123

    January 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I like him better with titleist

    • Brandell

      January 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      What is their to like more about him with Titleist? A sweet Nascar Look and some Ugly shoes!? Camon man… The guy looks like the biggest star in the SWOOSH. love everything about it. Good for him. He will smoke it with the COVERT.

  14. Rufiolegacy

    January 14, 2013 at 10:27 am

    This is going to be a big year for Nike, and the Covert. Can’t wait to get my hands on that thing!

  15. GolfDose

    January 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Can’t believe he would change all 14 of his clubs. Who knows he might turn out to something as big as Dustin Johnson first win of 2013 and R1 Taylormade on Tour.

  16. Hula_Rock

    January 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Interesting , A 10.5 degree COVERT ?????

    • GolfDose

      January 14, 2013 at 10:16 am

      10.5 neutral setting. Maybe he’s going to set it lower?

      • Ron

        January 14, 2013 at 10:27 am

        about 60% of tour pros use 10.5 drivers. its all about carry distance

    • Chris

      January 14, 2013 at 3:15 pm

      Well, there’s no dancing around it. Nike made it’s move at the right time and with great excitement. This move should motivate other manufacturers to press the envelope in building a team that can be just as dynamic. All in all, I hope this turns out to be good for golf as a whole.

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