Top dollar for Rory McIlroy who joins blue-chip brotherhood with Nike deal - Golf - Sport - The Independent

Top dollar for Rory McIlroy who joins blue-chip brotherhood with Nike deal

Comeback Kid takes Tiger's place as Nike's face of golf – to the tune of $125m

It is Rory to his mates. And Rory McIlroy has a lot of mates now. Wedge to the tune of $125 million (£77.5m) over five years buys you a lot of chummy accolades as well profile. "Thanks for being with us Rory, you are a true role model in the world of golf." This was delivered by the anchor from CNN but it might have been anybody within shouting distance of a microphone.

Perched high on a stool beside his Nike clubs, casually rigged out in his new apparel with the Abu Dhabi night sky shimmering behind him, McIlroy looked every inch the golfing successor to Tiger Woods and a fitting member of sports blue-chip brotherhood alongside those other disciples of the swoosh, Cristiano Ronaldo, Roger Federer, LeBron James and Michael Jordan.

Among McIlroy's many attributes is his willingness to engage openly and honestly with his inquisitors in the media. To his credit, there was even humility in the scripted delivery of the Nike message, as if he understood and sympathised with the listener for having to sit through this stage-managed mush. The authenticity comes with the way he swings a club.

Nike are buying proven goods. The deal, believed to extend over five years initially, has the potential to run for 20 or more. It is difficult to overstate the marketing case for McIlroy, who seems to have been with us two lifetimes already yet is only 23. He fills the space beside Woods in the inaugural Nike ad without blinking.

He says he is more than satisfied with his new equipment, smashing the ball even greater distances than he did with the trusted Titleist weaponry. We shall see for ourselves on Thursday when he tees off for the first time this year. And you can stick the mortgage on McIlroy and Woods going out together in the opening two rounds of the HSBC Champions tournament. "The driver is awesome. 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. It is the best. The ball has been fantastic. All the clubs are great. I can't be happier with what's in my bag right now. Everything has really fallen into place for me."

Yes, you are right. He would say that, wouldn't he, and this, for that matter. "I chose Nike for a number of reasons. 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." Well, what would you spout for $25 mill a year?

Like McIlroy, Cindy Davis, the president of Nike Golf, is paid to come out with this stuff. Unlike him she will never have a chance to redeem herself on the course.

She 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."

From his days in short trousers chipping balls into washing machines to his under-10 world championship at Doral, to winning his European Tour card as a 17-year-old, to his first major success at the US Open at 21 by a record margin, the McIlroy comet has been orbiting on a higher plane. He even loses, big. The visceral suffering at the Masters in 2011, his head slumped in the crook of his arm after finding water at 13th, might have been cast by Steven Spielberg. The response two months later at Congressional, winning the US Open by eight shots, was indeed a work of fable.

This is the kind of narrative we imagine for ourselves as kids when we putt for the Open Championship at the local municipal. McIlroy attacked the greatest test a golfer can face, before a global audience of millions, with boyish innocence and enthusiasm. And America, a nation for whom the comeback is central to identity, loved him for it. Few in the environs of Augusta could tell you the name of the winner the day after McIlroy's demise, let alone spell it.

Charl Schwartzel did what none in the history of the game had managed in claiming the Masters crown, birdied the last four holes on Sunday, yet it was McIlroy who dominated the golfing conversation over breakfast on Monday.

Schwartzel, himself a Nike client, could win another three Masters titles and still not walk the same ground as McIlroy. The legend, subsequently embellished with the addition of a second major at last year's PGA championship and his comedy arrival by police patrol car at the Ryder Cup in September, is fixed in the imaginations of all who love the game.

The Nike association is one more brick in the McIlroy wall. Does he feel any more pressure as a consequence of the cheque in his pocket? If he does, you would not know it.

"If I live up to my own expectations I will not have any problem living up to the expectations of others," he said. And that one he came up with all on his own.

"Hopefully that will translate into many more tournament wins and more success at the majors."

Rich Rory: McIlroy's earnings in numbers

50%: Tiger Woods picked up 50 per cent more airtime from sponsors than McIlroy in 2012 according to Forbes, generating $18.9m.

£15m: McIlroy could earn £15m a year for 10 years from the deal. He was 91st in the 2012 Forbes Sport Rich List with £10.8m.

£8m: McIlroy's winnings in 2012, the fifth highest from a single season in the history of the game.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week