Knight: Nike's decision 'hard emotionally' for Tiger


It's been a month since Nike Golf announced its decision to "transition out" of the club making business, and already Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy's homes are stocked with equipment from competing manufacturers.

While Nike intends to remain in the golf apparel and footwear business, there's at least one fewer club manufacturer in the industry, and the founder of the company thinks there are still "probably two or three too many."

In an interview with ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike on Thursday, Nike's chairman emeritus Phil Knight was asked to elaborate on the company's decision.

"The decision was really a financial decision. It's a tough business. There's probably two or three too many manufacturers in the golf club business, and that makes it so that even if you can have a breakthrough innovation in golf clubs, well then the other factories are going to have to discount their product. So you have a hard time really making it profitable, and we really didn't.

"And so it was kind of an easy financial decision, [but] it was a really tough emotional decision, because our R&D people and the people we worked with that manufactured clubs ... produced 20 winners of grand slam tournaments."

A 14-time major winner, Woods signed with Nike in 1996 and began using the company's clubs in the early 2000s.

Asked about the long-time face of Nike Golf and his reaction, Knight said: "It was hard emotionally [for us], and it was hard emotionally for Tiger. I spoke with him a couple times, and he was upset, and I was upset.

"It was something that we would rather not have happened, but the financial reality just led us to it."

Woods, of course, has been out of action since last August.

His agent, Mark Steinberg, told last month: "Clearly he and I need to be thinking about a change on the hard goods side. He and I have discussed at length the plan for that, and feel comfortable with what we're going to do going forward. But clearly there's likely going to be a change."