Rory McIlroy is now so big that even his ex-sponsors issue press releases when he leaves them. The precedent was set by Acushnet late last year when it was announced that he would not be continuing his relationship with Titleist/Footjoy. Today, his first big corporate sponsor, Jumeirah Group, announced that they had “jointly agreed” to end their five-year relationship on December 31.
It’s a surprise to no-one, of course, given that McIlroy has signed a multi-year deal with Nike Golf that will be made public at the five-star Fairmont Bab Al Bahr hotel in Abu Dhabi - most certainly not a Jumeirah property - next Monday afternoon.
The removal of the Jumierah logo leaves the way clear for McIlroy to sport the Nike swoosh from head to toe following the accidented end to his eyewear and apparel deal with Oakley at the end of last year - Oakley have sued McIlroy and Nike in a California court.
McIlroy’s move to Jumeirah was announced at the Quinn Direct British Masters at the Belfry on 19 September 2007 - you can read the transcript of McIlroy’s press conference here - and it’s interesting to note how things have changed over the past five years:
- Chubby Chandler is no longer McIlroy’s manager, which should given his current agents, Horizon Sports Management, some food for thought.
- Seán Quinn, the sponsor of the Quinn British Masters where McIlroy made his professional debut, was the richest man in Ireland at the time with an estimated net worth of €4.722 billion. He’s now bankrupt following a series of bizarre events that led to the bail-out of the entire Irish economy, no less. [Read the New York Times summary of the Quinn story here]
- Tiger Woods had a 14.73-point lead over Phil Mickelson at the top of the world rankings. Woods and Adam Scott are the only members of that week’s Top 10 still in the Top 10. Scott has yet to win a major while Woods has won just one more in the intervening years, the 2008 US Open. The American is now world No 3, Mickelson is 17th, Jim Furyk (3rd) 27th, Ernie Els (4th) 24th, Steve Stricker (5th) 18th, Scott (6th) is fifth, Pádraig Harrington (7th) 59th, Sergio Garcia (8th) 16th, Rory Sabbatini (9th) 134th and KJ Choi (10th) is 48th.
- The 2007 European Tour schedule featured five events in Spain and 13 in Asia. This year there will be one in Spain and 11 in Asia (so far).
- Colin Montgomerie won the European Open at the K Club. He hasn’t won an event since and the European Open has also disappeared.
- McIlroy finished third at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to secure his tour card. The tournament winner, Nick Dougherty, has lost his card and is now 649th in the world.
Where will McIlroy be in 2018? How many majors will he have by then? Will he be married to Caroline Wozniacki?
Given what’s happened over the past five years, my predictions are: Florida, 7 and No. The chances of Dubai-based, 10-time major winning father of three, Rory McIlroy-Wozniacki turning up in 2018 just improved.