It's Official, Rory McIlroy Is Newest Nike Athlete

By Les Bailey
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In a high tech ceremony complete with pyrotechics, at the Fairmont Hotel with the city of Abu Dhabi in the background, Rory McIlroy was announced by Nike President, Cindy Davis as the newest Nike athlete. The  completely Swoosh clad world number one golfer uttered the words that his competitors didn’t want to hear: “I’ve been testing all the way through Christmas. I’ve been practicing hard in the offseason. This equipment change has been seamless,” McIlroy said. “I think I can take my game to another level.”

The youngster from Northern Ireland won his second major at Kiawah Island in 2012, the money title on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and The DP World Championship which included the Race To Dubai. The last thing his contemporaries wanted to see, was his game getting better.

“The driver is awesome,” McIlroy said. “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.”

McIlroy finished in fifth place on the PGA Tour in 2012 in Driving Distance at 310.1 yards, where he was 156th in accuracy. The new Nike VR_S Covert driver should add another 15 yards and improve his accuracy by at least 30%.

The deal with Nike is reported to be between $200-$250 million, and should make McIlroy the highest paid golfer on the planet. He will be playing Nike VR Pro Limited Edition fairway woods, Nike VR Pro Blade irons, Nike VR Pro wedges and a Nike Method prototype putter. McIlroy will play Nike’s new 20XI golf ball. He will wear Nike apparel and the new Nike Lunar Control footwear.

Rory McIlroy has played his entire six year career using  Titleist equipment along with his Scotty Cameron Putter. There have been many concerns made by some of the old-timers that he is making a mistake switching equipment at this stage of his career. The most vocal being Nick Faldo. McIlroy has also ended his relationship with Jumeriah Resorts, which was his first corporate sponsor.

The year’s most anticipated match-up starts on Thursday morning with the start of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship when McIlroy will tee it up for the first time in the new 2013 season with Tiger Woods in the field. Robert Rock broke up the party last year, by beating both Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy in this tournament, and will be the defending champion.

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