Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy to Go Head to Head in Abu Dhabi

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

In a pairing that should surprise no one, Tiger Woods will be playing alongside the newest face of Nike Golf, Rory McIlroy, when the two open their respective seasons at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship this week. For those of you whose internet, cable and radio have been malfunctioning today, McIlroy and Nike officially announced the fact that he is the newest member of the Nike Golf team.

Details of his contract were not made available and vary widely depending who is doing the reporting. Some outlets are reporting that it was a five year deal, while others are saying it’s for 10 years. The monetary value of the agreement ranges anywhere from $100 million to $250 million based upon which article you’re reading.

It is going to be interesting to see how Woods handles the fact that he is no longer the poster boy for Nike. He has been the biggest player in their stable since he signed his first deal with them for $40 million in 1996.

Personally, I think this is going to have a positive outcome as far as Woods is concerned. For one, any pressure that he felt due to being the big man on the Nike campus is now gone. In addition, there is a very good chance McIlroy’s deal will motivate him. Woods isn’t a big fan of playing second fiddle to anyone. Now, he’s the second guy on the Nike team, and the golfer who took his place also currently resides at the top of the official world golf rankings – a position Woods was in for a long time and is trying to regain.

As for McIlroy, I fully anticipate some growing pains as he breaks in his new clubs in competition. He has said that the clubs felt great during test at “The Oven” (Nike’s test facility), but using them in a tournament is a completely different story. Despite the occasional hiccup, which is to be expected, McIlroy wouldn’t have signed this deal if he thought the equipment would be an encumbrance to his game.

So, golf fans, when Woods and McIlroy take the course this week for the first round in Abu Dhabi, both will be outfitted in Nike from head to toe and from driver to putter. Whatever clubs they’re using, I am looking forward to the first of hopefully many head to head battles between these two in 2013.

You can view all of Carl’s RantSports articles here and follow him on Twitter @CarlConradRS.