Acushnet, the manufacturers of Titleist and FootJoy made it official on Tuesday, their current deal with Rory McIlroy will not extend beyond December 31, 2012.
The World’s #1 player and winner of four PGA Tour titles in 2012 has played equipment from the company since he turned professional in 2007.
The statement released the the media this morning contained the usual amicable parting shots from each side:
“Our goal has been to provide Rory with the best equipment and service that would help him be the best player he could possibly be,” said Wally Uihlein, Chief Executive Officer, Acushnet Company. “He has been a great ambassador for the Titleist and FootJoy brands, and in turn, we are proud of how our equipment has contributed to his success. We wish Rory all the best, both personally and professionally, going forward.”
“I would like to thank Wally Uihlein and all of the tour staff and employees at Titleist and FootJoy for everything they have done for me since I turned professional in 2007,” said McIlroy. “I have enjoyed five very exciting and successful years with the company and I will always appreciate the contribution Titleist has made in helping me become the player I am today.”
Now the question becomes what’s next for Rory McIlroy?
There is no way he will be left without an equipment endorsement; his stamp of approval is way too valuable to an equipment company. But just who has both the money and technology to attract the two-time major champion?
As talented as he is McIlroy will still need equipment he is comfortable with and that will continue to help him to rack up wins.
Since August rumours have been rampant that Nike Golf will assume that role. While the figures of $250 million over 10 years seem a little far-fetched, there are few brands with the cash to take on a deal of this scale (whatever that may be) but Nike Golf could easily be one of them. Recent camaraderie between Nike’s big guy, Tiger Woods, and McIlroy only add fuel to the fire, even more so when you consider they were caught by microphones discussing equipment during a match in China just two days ago.
Nike Golf is set to have a huge equipment reveal next week, so even with McIlroy under contract to the end of the year, if he is headed to the swoosh brand we may see more indications of that shortly. Already curious about where Nike Golf is going with their new gear it makes me even more interested to attend that reveal next week at Nike offices in New York City.
Of course, as much speculation as there is, real evidence does not yet exist of a Nike Golf/Rory McIlroy deal so those with an interest are best to consider that there may be other companies in play.
Currently TaylorMade-adidas is the biggest golf brand in the world and, marketing driven as they are, would not likely shy away from a deal of this nature. You can also mix in Cobra-Puma Golf. The huge multi-national brand is youth-driven with the likes of Rickie Fowler and Lexi Thompson on their pro staff. While those two are growing in stature, adding an already major champion to the family could be a great thing for the brand’s burgeoning reputation.
And lastly, here is a curve ball for you. How about Callaway Golf? While the company has suffered in their sales numbers in recent times they still have the money to make a major endorsement happen. Recently in their social media streams they have referred to a long-hitting new endorsee. What better way to push the brand back in the spotlight on top of the many innovative products they have been showcasing of late?
While Nike Golf appears to be the front-runner for the services of Rory McIlroy on speculation alone, until the announcement is made there is still much to consider.
That said, I’ll be all ears in New York.