Nike signed a sponsorship deal with No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy for a reported $200 million.
Nike now represents golf’s two biggest stars in McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has been with the sportswear company since turning pro in 1996.
In October, McIlroy cut ties with Acushnet Co., which had supplied him with Titleist and FootJoy gear since he turned pro five years ago. And this month, Jumeirah Group announced it was not renewing its five-year sponsorship deal with the Northern Irishman.
McIlroy insisted he’s not making the switch because of the money.
“I don’t play golf for the money, I am well past that,” McIlroy said. “I’m a major champion and world No. 1, which I have always dreamed of being, and feel this is a company that can help me sustain that and win even more major titles.
“At the end of 2013, if I have not won another major I will be disappointed.”
The deal comes in the wake of a career year for McIlroy, one in which he became No. 1 and won his second major.
He said that all the attention hasn’t rattled him and that he has struck the “right balance,” although he acknowledged it took some time getting used to the top ranking.
RYDER CUP: Paul McGinley appears to be the front-runner to become Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for 2014 after Darren Clarke raised doubts about his willingness to take on the responsibility.
McGinley has received the endorsement of McIlroy, who has tweeted his support for the 46-year-old Irishman.
McGinley has the credentials, having been on three winning Ryder Cup sides and having served as vice captain for Europe in 2010 and for its improbable comeback win last year.
Clarke was the favorite until last week, when he raised concerns about the impact the captaincy would have on his career, which he feels is on the rebound after a difficult 2012.