McIlroy Nike rumors are premature

By Jason SobelOctober 28, 2012, 9:58 pm

Here's a wicked little social experiment for the next time you find yourself on the driving range at a PGA Tour event: Stand on one end of the facility and within earshot of Tour types – players, caddies, agents, equipment reps, etc. – casually drop a hot little rumor in their direction. Then sit back and watch as it trickles down the range, concluding at the other end with the words and message distorted like that old whisper-down-the-lane children’s game.

This exercise isn't meant to paint the world's best golfers – and their entourages – as gossip hounds. It's simply human nature to want to pass along juicy information to the next guy and invariably common for that information to be misinterpreted the further it travels.

All of which leads us to those persistent Rory McIlroy-to-Nike rumors, which have already traveled thousands of miles around the globe as part of one giant game of whisper-down-the-lane.

In this instance, the communication process may mirror that of the driving range experiment, its message twisted and distorted with each whisper. Or maybe it’s come through crystal clear, passed from one messenger to the next with astonishingly unhindered aplomb.

Here is what we do know: Speculation is running rampant that McIlroy will soon sign a 10-year/$250 million contract to adorn the conspicuous swoosh logo.

Here is what we don’t know: Everything.

Despite the worldwide gossip, there are really only three parties with inside knowledge of any potential deal and possible negotiations – Camp McIlroy, Camp Nike and Camp Titleist, his current equipment sponsor. Unlike a player in another sport leaving through free agency, Rory must also negotiate through the manufacturer with whom he’s currently under contract. And – surprise, surprise – none of them are talking right now, not even enough to lend credence to the rumors.

“I have my management company deal with endorsements and everything like that,” McIlroy said prior to this week’s BMW Masters. “I’m just here to concentrate on golf this week, and I’ve got enough to think about trying to get that ball in the hole. So no further comment on that.”

As for Nike, a spokesperson maintained via email that, “We are not going to comment on rumors or speculation.”

There’s plenty of speculation to not be commented on, too. For months, the Internet message boards have been buzzing with conjecture about McIlroy joining Woods in Nike’s stable, with mainstream media outlets quickly joining in the race to make such a connection.

Since then, every little inner machination involving one or both has developed into some sort of signal that it’s going to happen, according to the conspiracy theorists. Tiger and Rory turn their friendship into a full-blown bromance? Must be because the former is trying to recruit the latter. Nike drops its longtime sponsorship of Lance Armstrong in the wake of his banishment from professional cycling? Must be because it's freeing up more cash for McIlroy.

There's an old axiom which easily speaks to such flammable situations: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. In other words, if there was nothing to this speculation, it probably wouldn’t have arisen in the first place.

Even this theory, though, can be debated in the current scenario.

In recent weeks, I’ve spoken with multiple industry insiders who claim that McIlroy-to-Nike is a done deal, they’re just waiting for the ink to dry while his management team ties up loose ends with prior sponsorship obligations. I’ve also spoken with multiple industry insiders who claim that much like a benign fender-bender, we should move along because there’s nothing to see here, these sources steadfast in their contention that a deal is not imminent.

Whom should we believe? Well, those with the most information, of course. The only problem is that those with the most information – Camp McIlroy, Camp Nike and Camp Titleist, remember – are also the ones who aren’t talking, leading to a vicious cycle of nothingness, the proverbial dog chasing its tail.

It leaves the rest speculating about rumors and gossip, reluctant pawns in a game of whisper-down-the-lane that has transfixed a global golf community hungry for answers. Sometimes the process can yield the correct result at the other end of the line, but with so many rampant hypotheses, it’s important to remember that miscommunication and misinterpretation are often a major factor in this game.

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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 3:21 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.

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Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 1:21 am

Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.

Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.

“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.

“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”

Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.

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Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder

By Associated PressJanuary 21, 2018, 12:51 am

LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.

Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.

''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''

It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''

Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.

''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''

After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.

''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''

He's making his first start in the event.

''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.

Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.

''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''

Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.

''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.

The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.

''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''

Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.

''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.

Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.

Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.

John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.

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Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years

By Randall MellJanuary 21, 2018, 12:48 am

Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.

He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.

How rare is his missing the cut there?

The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.

The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.

Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.

Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.