Nike Golf signs McIlroy as global athlete

Rory McIlroy has signed a multiyear deal to exclusively use Nike products.

Rory McIlroy has signed a multiyear deal to exclusively use Nike products.

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Call it, "Hello, world – The sequel."

Rory McIlroy didn't utter the words that Tiger Woods made famous when he became a Nike Golf spokesman, but the net effect was the same: McIlroy introduced himself Monday – via a global press conference from Abu Dhabi – as the Swoosh's next leading man.

With the help of Woods, Nike expanded its golf-product offerings beyond apparel and established legitimacy in the equipment category. Though Woods is sure to continue playing a key marketing role, it's clear that Nike is counting on McIlroy's worldwide exposure to increase sales among intense competition for global market share.

The 23-year-old Northern Irishman, who signed a multiyear deal to exclusively use Nike products, appears suited for that task: In 2012, he led the PGA Tour and PGA European Tour money lists, winning five times, including the PGA Championship, which gave him his second major-championship title. He is ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

“Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere,” said Cindy Davis, Nike Golf's president. “He is the epitome of a Nike athlete, and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf’s history."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it has been widely reported that McIlroy agreed to a 10-year contract with Nike. Their partnership will become evident on the airwaves beginning Wednesday when Nike begins running its first ad campaign featuring McIlroy. Produced by Nike's long-time agency Wieden and Kennedy, the 60-second spot, called "No Cup is Safe," takes a lighthearted look at what Nike can only hope will become a major storyline in 2013: the rivalry between McIlroy and Woods.

McIlroy is making his Nike debut this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and will be fully equipped with Nike gear. His bag: Nike VR_S Covert Tour driver (9.5 degree); Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood (15 degree) and 5-wood (19-degree); Nike VR Pro Blades (3-PW); Nike VR Pro wedges (54 and 60 degree); Nike Method 006 Prototype putter; and Nike 20XI ball. He will wear Nike's Tour Performance Collection apparel and the new Lunar Control footwear.

“I chose Nike for a number of reasons,” McIlroy said. “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."

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