For years, the top golfer at Nike was Tiger Woods. Now after last week’s slew of signings, Nike may not have found a name that’s bigger than Tiger Woods, but they sure opened their checkbooks. Nike signed a trio of PGA Tour players last week: Kyle Stanly, Nick Watney, and Rory McIlroy.
Given McIlroy’s current position in golf, he garnered a good deal of media attention with his move from Titleist to Nike. Many were skeptical of the move away from the Titleist brand that McIlroy has seen some much success with over the past few years, but a reported $200 million-plus payday is hard for anybody to pass up.
The McIlroy deal with Nike represents a changing of the guard on the golf scene. Tiger may be the biggest name in the game, but McIlroy is sneaking up there. Tiger is aging and may never win another major, while McIlroy is still only 23 and entering the prime of his career with two majors already under his belt.
Signing Stanley and Watney can also benefit the Nike brand. Watney has shown flashes with two wins in 2011 and one in 2012, and he is only 31 years old. Stanley is another up-and-comer who is only 24 years old. He got his first win on the PGA Tour in 2012 and also showed some flashes of being able to win some smaller tournaments.
The PGA Tour has also recently released their 2013 schedule. New Years Eve will mark the start of the Tour’s schedule with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii. Tour majors will kick off with the Masters from Augusta National on April 8 and then continue with the US Open on June 10 from Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, PA right outside of Philadelphia. Players will travel across the pond to Scotland for the Open Championship (British Open) starting on July 15. The final PGA Tour major of the year, the PGA Championship, will be start on August 5 from Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, NY.
New Nike signee Rory McIlroy will look to repeat at the PGA Championship and also at the Honda Classic (Feb. 25 – Mar. 3), the Deutsche Bank Championship (Aug. 26 – Sep. 2), and the BMW Championship (Sep. 9 – Sep. 15).
Follow Kevin Rossi on Twitter @kevin_rossi.