Rory McIlroy’s contract with Titleist/Footjoy ends after the year, and there is speculation that the 23-year-old could sign a mega deal with Nike.
The Irish Times published a story on Saturday indicating that the world No. 1 golfer is likely to sign his next equipment/apparel deal with the swoosh. His agent would not comment on the speculation.
“As you are aware, Rory is under contract with Titleist,” McIlroy’s agent, Conor Ridge of Horizon Sports Management, told the Irish Times. “It is our policy not to pass comment regarding any industry speculation related to any of our players.”
A transition to Nike would make sense for McIlroy. The Northern Irishman won the US Open in record fashion in June 2011, and he took home his second major — the PGA Championship — in August. He passed $10 million in career earnings this year, and he is widely viewed as one of the most marketable and recognizable athletes in sports.
“McIlroy is the boy-next-door brand. The I-want-my-son-to-be-him brand,” Jordan Zimmerman of Zimmerman Advertising told ESPN in August. “That gives you an unbelievable opportunity with the mothers and dads and will also bring kids into golf earlier.”
Zimmerman also speculated that McIlroy could catch Tiger Woods in endorsement earnings.
The Irish Times says the deal McIlroy is expected to sign with Nike could rival the current one Tiger Woods has with the company. Tiger is 36 and hasn’t won a major since 2008. At 23, McIlroy has some of his best years ahead of him, and he seems to have replaced Tiger as the most feared golfer on tour. He could become the prime representative of Nike golf for the next decade.
McIlroy’s current endorsements include Jumeirah Group, Oakley, luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet, and Spanish bank Santander.
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