World No.1 puts pen to paper on multi-year deal to wear the 'Swoosh'
The worst-kept secret in golf is out: Rory McIlroy has signed a multi-year equipment and apparel contract with Nike Golf.
At a lavish ceremony in Abu Dhabi, the world No.1 was unveiled to the world's media as the latest addition to Nike Golf's roster of brand ambassadors, which already includes Tiger Woods and has been bolstered already in 2013 by the additions of Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley, Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung Yul Noh.
Today's widely anticipated announcement marks a new chapter in McIlroy's career and, according to various reports, will make him one of the world's highest paid sportsmen.
One estimation has two-time major winner McIlroy earning up to £156m from the deal over the next ten years, comfortably more than the £100m lifetime deal that footballer David Beckham has in place with Adidas.
Under the terms of the deal, McIlroy will wear Nike Golf apparel and play the brand's hardware, including the revolutionary VR_S Covert driver, VR II Pro Blades and VR Pro fairway woods.
Interestingly, the Northern Irishman will also use a Nike Method 006 putter, as opposed to his Scotty Cameron. Leaked images of McIlroy's practice bag at the Els Club in Dubai last week appeared to show his new equipment alongside his Scotty. However, he confirmed he will be playing Nike's putter, as well as choosing from the brand's range of golf balls.
"I've always associated Nike with the best," said McIlroy during his grandiose introduction, which was broadcast live on the internet to a watching global audience. "I've watched Tiger make history as a Nike athlete - I'm excited to try to create my own history."
McIlroy also wasted no time in tweeting today's news to his 1.4million followers:
Several high-profile Nike ambassadors filmed messages welcoming Rory to the brand, including Woods, Roger Federer and Wayne Rooney.
"I chose Nike for a number of reasons," said McIlroy. "It's a company and a brand that really resonates with me. It's young. It's athletic. It's innovative. They are committed to being the best, as am I. Signing with Nike is another step towards living out my dream."
Welcoming Rory to 'Team Nike', Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, said: "Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere.
"He is the epitome of a Nike Athlete, and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf's history. We are looking forward to partnering with him to take his remarkable career to the next level."
Discussing his new equipment, McIlroy was particualrly enthusiastic about the VR_S Covert driver.
"The new VR_S Covert driver, is completely different," said the 23-year-old. "It's the first cavity back driver. It's striking, it looks cool and it performs unbelievably well."
"To be honest, I've been blown away by the attention to detail when it comes to product. Nike Golf is clearly committed to being the best and that gives me a lot of confidence in what we can achieve together on the golf course."
McIlroy will showcase his new gear for the first time at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he has finished tied-11th, tied-fifth, third, second and second again in his last four outings.
FOR A FULL AND IN-DEPTH LOOK AT RORY'S MOVE TO NIKE GOLF AND WHAT IT MEANS, LOOK OUT FOR ISSUE 121 OF BUNKERED. ON-SALE, FEB 14th
SCROLL DOWN TO SEE WHAT NIKE GOLF GEAR RORY WILL BE WEARING AND PLAYING...