The rumors have been circulating for weeks, but this morning it finally became official, Rory McIlroy and Titleist will part ways on December 31, 2012.
McIlroy has been playing Titleist equipment since turning pro five years ago, but after two major championship victories in the past two years, McIlroy clearly feels that it is time to pursue what could very well wind up being the biggest payday of his career and one of the most lucrative equipment contracts the game has ever seen.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are now entering the twilight of their careers, and despite an abundance of young talent on the PGA Tour, McIlory has been the only player to really step up and assert himself as the game’s next big star. So, if you’re a golf equipment company looking to lock up golf’s next household name for the foreseeable future, you really have only one choice: Rory McIlroy.
It has been rumored that Nike is contemplating offering McIlroy a 10-year deal worth as much as $250 million.
A budding “bromance” has developed between Woods (who also plays Nike equipment) and McIlroy over the past 6 months. Most thought this to be a genuine friendship based on mutual respect of each other’s games, but perhaps this “bromance” was actually just a matter of Woods courting McIlroy and steering him towards Nike Golf all along.
Woods essentially built Nike golf from the ground up after he signed with the company back in 1996 and would undoubtedly benefit financially from any spike in equipment and apparel sales that could come as a result of McIlroy signing on with the company.
Nike may have gotten in early with McIlroy, but there is bound to be a fierce competition amongst all of the major golf manufacturers over the coming weeks, because after all, it’s not every day that equipment companies have the opportunity to sign a 23-year-old World No. 1 with two major championships already under his belt.
Expect to see McIlroy’s name within the Top 10 on Forbes 2013 list of the world’s highest paid athletes.