McIlroy to leave Titleist - Nike next?

Follow the leader? Rory McIlroy appears to follow Nike icon Tiger Woods as he walks past an advertisement of the American during Monday’s Duel at Jinsha Lake in China. Photo www.golffile.ieAs we reported earlier this month, Rory McIlroy will be leaving Titleist at the end of the season.

If our sources are correct, the next step will come in the new year when he joins Tiger Woods at Nike in a deal believed to be worth $250 million over 10 years.

According to the Associated Press golf correspondent Doug Ferguson:

“McIlroy and Acushnet Co., which has supplied the 23-year-old star with Titleist and FootJoy equipment since he turned pro in 2007, said Tuesday they will not extend their relationship after this year.”

Acushnet chief executive Wally Uihlein says McIlroy has been a great ambassador for the equipment over the last five years, when he won two majors by eight shots and has established himself as No. 1 in the world. In a statement, McIlroy thanked the company for “helping me become the player I am today.”

There are strong indications that McIlroy will sign with Nike for what one industry observer estimated to be upward of $20 million a year. A Nike official said the company would not comment on rumors and speculation.

“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.”

McIlroy’s agent at Dublin-based Horizon Sports Management, Conor Ridge, was not immediately available for comment.