Rory McIlroy, the current world No. 1 and two-time PGA major champion, has officially joined the Nike Golf team. He recently signed onto a long-term endorsement deal that covers apparel and equipment.
Nike announced the partnership on Monday at the Fairmont Hotel in Abu Dhabi, where the company officially welcomed McIlroy into its family of golfers, which includes the current world No. 2 Tiger Woods.
"I've always associated Nike with the best," McIlroy, 23, said at the announcement. "Growing up, whether it was golf, tennis, football, the best athletes were with Nike. I've watched Tiger Woods make history with Nike, and Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal. Now I want to create my own history with Nike.
" … Nike is 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."
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed by Nike or McIlroy. Multiple news outlets have reported that the agreement could be worth as much as $250 million over a 10-year period. That would make it the most lucrative deal in global sports and end McIlroy's association with Titleist, with whom he has been signed since turning professional in 2007.
During Monday’s announcement, Nike aired a new promotional commercial that features McIlroy and Woods, 37, on a range, hitting golf shots and poking fun at each other. The commercial has struck a positive chord with golf fans, including other world famous athletes.
“That new @nikegolf commercial with @TigerWoods and @RoryMcIlroy may be one of the best ever!!!” tweeted NBA star point guard Chris Paul.
Despite McIlroy’s current world ranking, the commercial ends with Woods coming out just slightly on top.
McIlroy made quite a statement during last year’s tour when he won five titles worldwide, including his second major championship at the PGA Championship. The northern Irishman also won money titles on the PGA Tour and European Tour, and he was voted Player of the Year in both the U.S. and Europe
McIlroy will make his 2013 debut on Thursday in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he is likely to be paired with Woods.
McIlroy will be playing with the world's first high-speed cavity back driver that conforms to USGA and R&A Rules — the Nike VR_S Covert.
"The driver is awesome," McIlroy said on Monday. "I'm really excited about the Nike equipment. I was blown away with the technology. As soon as I hit (the driver), I knew it was in my bag straight away."
He added, "The driver is the best. The ball has been fantastic. All the clubs are great," he said. "I can't be happier with what's in my bag right now."
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.