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.

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Watch: Tiger throws dart, pours in birdie at 8

By Golf Channel DigitalMarch 18, 2018, 7:31 pm

Starting Sunday five off the lead, Tiger Woods teed off his final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a laced 2-iron and a par at No. 1.

Woods hit the green at the par-3 second but left himself a 50-foot birdie putt and a 6-footer to save par, which we walked in.

A two-putt 4 at the par-5 fourth gave Woods his first birdie of the day and moved him to 8 under for the week. Apparently energized, Tiger pulled driver at the short par-4 fifth and unleashed this violent swing.

A pitch from the thick rough hit a sprinkler head and stopped on the apron, leading to this birdie try, which fortunately hit the pin but unfortunately didn't fall.

Looking to pick up another stroke - or two - at the par-5 sixth, Woods took his drive 317 yards over the water and hit this second shot from 227 yards to 13 feet, leading to another two-putt birdie when his eagle try burned the right edge.

Returning to his trusty 2-iron, Tiger found the fairway at par-4 eighth and then threw this dart from 176 yards to 6 feet and rolled in his third birdie putt of the day to move to 10 under.

(More coming...)

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Tiger Tracker: Arnold Palmer Invitational

By Tiger TrackerMarch 18, 2018, 5:00 pm

Tiger Woods will start Sunday five off the lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. How will he follow up last week's runner-up? We're tracking him at Bay Hill.

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McIlroy: Time for Tour to limit alcohol sales on course

By Ryan LavnerMarch 18, 2018, 1:50 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rory McIlroy suggested Saturday that the PGA Tour might need to consider curbing alcohol sales to stop some of the abusive fan behavior that has become more prevalent at events.

McIlroy said that a fan repeatedly yelled his wife’s name (Erica) during the third round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“I was going to go over and have a chat with him,” McIlroy said. “I think it’s gotten a little much, to be honest. I think they need to limit the alcohol sales on the course, or they need to do something, because every week it seems like guys are complaining about it more and more.

Full-field scores from the Arnold Palmer Invitational

Arnold Palmer Invitational: Articles, photos and videos

“I know that people want to come and enjoy themselves, and I’m all for that, but sometimes when the comments get personal and people get a little bit rowdy, it can get a little much.”

This isn’t the first time that McIlroy has voiced concerns about fan behavior on Tour. Last month at Riviera, he said the rowdy spectators probably cost Tiger Woods a half-shot a round, and after two days in his featured group he had a splitting headache.

A week later, at the Honda Classic, Justin Thomas had a fan removed late in the final round.

McIlroy believes the issue is part of a larger problem, as more events try to replicate the success of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which has one of the liveliest atmospheres on Tour.

“It’s great for that tournament, it’s great for us, but golf is different than a football game, and there’s etiquette involved and you don’t want people to be put off from bringing their kids when people are shouting stuff out,” he said. “You want people to enjoy themselves, have a good day.”

As for a solution, well, McIlroy isn’t quite sure.

“It used to be you bring beers onto the course or buy beers, but not liquor,” he said. “And now it seems like everyone’s walking around with a cocktail. I don’t know whether (the solution) is to go back to letting people walking around with beers in their hands. That’s fine, but I don’t know.”

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Confident Lincicome lurking after 54 holes at Founders

By Randy SmithMarch 18, 2018, 2:45 am

PHOENIX – Brittany Lincicome is farther back than she wanted to be going into Sunday at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup, but she’s in a good place.

She’s keeping the momentum of her season-opening Pure Silk Bahamas Classic victory going this year.

Her confidence is high.

“Last year, I won in the Bahamas, but then I didn't do anything after that,” Lincicome said. “I don't even know if I had a top 10 after my win in the Bahamas. Obviously, this year, I want to be more consistent.”

Lincicome followed up her victory in the Bahamas this year with a tie for seventh in her next start at the Honda LPGA Thailand. And now she’s right back on another leaderboard with the year’s first major championship just two weeks away. She is, by the way, a two-time winner at the ANA Inspiration.

Missy Pederson, Lincicome’s caddie, is helping her player keep that momentum going with more focus on honing in the scoring clubs.

“One of our major goals is being more consistent,” Pederson said. “She’s so talented, a once in a generation talent. I’m just trying to help out in how to best approach every golf course.”

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Pederson has helped Lincicome identify the clubs they’re likely to attack most with on the particular course they are playing that week, to spend more time working with those clubs in practice. It’s building confidence.

“I know the more greens we hit, and the more chances we give ourselves, the more our chances are to be in contention,” Pederson said. “Britt is not big into stats or details, so I have to figure out how to best consolidate that information, to get us exactly where we need to be.”

Lincicome’s growing comfort with clubs she can attack with is helping her confidence through a round.

“I’ve most noticed consistency in her mental game, being able to handle some of the hiccups that happen over the course of a round,” Pederson said. “Whereas before, something might get under her skin, where she might say, `That’s what always happens,’ now, it’s, `All right, I know I’m good enough to get this back.’ I try to get her in positions to hit the clubs we are really hitting well right now.”

That’s leading to a lot more birdies, fewer bogeys and more appearances on leaderboards in the start to this year.