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
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.
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.
- Age: 23
- Country: Northern Ireland
- OWGR: 1
- Age: 31
- Country: United States
- OWGR: 21
- Age: 23
- Country: Denmark
- OWGR: 51
- Age: 25
- Country: United States
- OWGR: 80
Seung Yul Noh
- Age: 21
- Country: South Korea
- OWGR: 99