Alan Shipnuck - October 29, 2012

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Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Alan Shipnuck is in China and was in attendance at the Rory McIlroy-Tiger Woods “Duel at Lake Jinsha.” There was a lot of positive energy surrounding the two best players in the world. Everyone was very excited to see Rory and Tiger playing in a match with each other in China. They were treated like rock stars and while the atmosphere was a bit chaotic at times, it was a great atmosphere and very different from most golf events.

Tiger and Rory are not so much rivals as they are friends. Tiger respects Rory’s talent and Rory is very deferential towards Tiger which certainly helps the relationship. Shipnuck said that Tiger may be in a different place in his life as he has gotten older and he seems to want to have friends around him on the golf course. Rory is someone who Tiger seems to relate to him on multiple levels.

Rory McIlroy has grown from a very good golfer into a global brand as World #1. When he was at the BMW Masters, his entire week was filled with various commitments including junior clinics and gala dinners along with the time that he normally puts into trying to win a golf tournament. Rory handled the responsibilities very well in Shanghai and he seems to really understand what being World #1 is about and he enjoys having the top spot.

Based on what he has heard, there continue to be discussions between Rory McIlroy and Nike. McIlroy is one of the most marketable athletes in the world and would be attractive to any company. He is currently under contract with Titleist and while a change in endorsements may or may not be imminent, it appears that the existence of current contracts with other companies would force any significant change into the future.