McIlroy officially unveiled as Nike Golf staffer

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 14, 2013, 2:30 pm

Rory McIlroy is sporting the Swoosh – finally.

One of the worst-kept secrets in golf became official Monday, with McIlroy announcing in an extravagant news conference at the Fairmont Hotel in Abu Dhabi that he has joined Nike’s stable of players. McIlroy and fellow Nike brand ambassador Tiger Woods will make their season debuts this week at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Dressed head-to-toe in the Swoosh, McIlroy was unveiled during an elaborate high-tech production that featured a hologram, laser show and video montage. (Think LeBron James’ intro with the Miami Heat.) When he finally emerged, walking through a cloud of smoke, he was wearing a gray Nike pullover and white Nike hat.

“I think I’ve always associated Nike with the best,” McIlroy said. “Growing up watching athletes on TV, all the best athletes were in Nike apparel.” 


What's in the Bag: McIlroy's Nike equipment

Video: Tiger-Rory Nike commercial

Photos: McIlroy through the years


Terms of McIlroy’s deal were not disclosed, per company policy, but it has been widely reported that the figure is in the neighborhood of $200 to $250 million over the next 10 years, making him one of the most richly compensated athletes not just in golf, but in sports.

“I don’t play golf for the money,” he said.

Of course, the addition of McIlroy, 23, gives Nike the top two players in the world, the sport’s two main attractions and, the company hopes, the main protagonists in what it hopes will be a decade-long rivalry.

McIlroy’s announcement ends what has been a busy offseason for Nike, which also added Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley and Seung-yul Noh to its stable. 

Said Nike Golf president Cindy Davis of McIlroy: “This celebrates a significant moment for our brand, for our golf business and for the career of an extraordinary young athlete.”

Woods signed with Nike when he turned pro in 1996, during a “Hello, world” campaign. McIlroy’s first TV spot will be rolled out Wednesday. The clip, which was previewed Monday during the news conference, features McIlroy and Woods trading barbs and hitting shots with Nike’s new red driver. (View the video here.)

During the news conference, Nike icons Wayne Rooney, Roger Federer and Phil Knight also appeared in a taped video and welcomed McIlroy to the company. Said Woods, in the video: “Welcome to the family.” 

Rumors of a Rory-Nike deal circulated long before Acushnet Co., which supplied McIlroy with FootJoy and Titleist equipment, announced that it would not renew its contract after 2012. He also had endorsement deals with Jumeirah and Oakley, which is suing McIlroy and Nike for breach of contract.

Legal issues aside, the biggest concern, of course, will be how McIlroy responds to his new Nike equipment. After all, the world No. 1 won five times worldwide in 2012 (including his second major, at the PGA), capturing the money title and Player of the Year honors on both sides of the pond.

In McIlroy’s new bag will be the Nike Covert driver, VR II Pro blade irons, VR Pro Limited Edition fairway woods (3 and 5), 46-, 50- and 54-degree wedges with “Rors” stamped on the back, and the 20XI-X ball. Most interesting, perhaps, is that McIlroy will put in play the Nike Method putter, shelving the Scotty Cameron model that he has used throughout his pro career. How he performs this season – and in particular, in his five starts leading up to the Masters – will be heavily scrutinized.

Not that McIlroy is concerned. After testing the equipment at The Oven late last year, he said he was “blown away” with his new sticks.

“I’m really confident in this equipment and excited to put it in play this week,” he said.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


Playing with the pros

Tiger, DJ and Faxon

Article: Video, images from Tiger, DJ's round with Trump

Article: After DJ and Tiger, Trump plays golf with Jack

Rory faces criticism

Article: Rory: Round with Trump about respect for presidency

Article: Rory: Round with Trump not a 'political statement'


President at the Presidents Cup


Video: President Trump makes the rounds at Liberty National

Article: President Trump presents trophy to U.S. team

Article: Stricker: 'Great thrill' to get trophy from Trump


Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham

Article: Senator tweets Trump shot 73 in windy, wet conditions

Article: Graham offers details on Trump's round of 73


Cart on the green


Article: Trump appears to drive cart on Bedminster green


Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open


Article: Trump makes presidential history at Women's Open

Article: Trump supporters, protesters clash near Women's Open

Article: UltraViolet takes protest inside Trump National


Photo gallery: President Trump at the U.S. Women's Open


Trump golf properties

Vandalism

Article: Environmental group vandalizes Trump golf course

Article: Man accused of vandalizing four Trump courses

Finances


Article: Two Trump courses in Scotland losing millions

Article: Eric Trump denies Russia helped fund golf courses

Article: Trump company ordered to pay $5.77M in dues dispute

Reportedly fake TIME covers


Article: Trump clubs display fake Time magazine cover


Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story

Report: Trump's voter fraud claim tied to Langer

Langer: Trump 'apologized' for story mix-up


Pros comment on the president

Article: Players defend Trump at Senior PGA Championship

Article: Trump congratulates Daly; Daly congratulates Trump

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm