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Golf | Golf Globe

Rory McIlroy © Gallo Images

Nike set to announce McIlroy deal



Rory McIlroy's big-money switch of sponsors to Nike is set to be announced in Abu Dhabi on Monday, press reports have said.

The deal, which is believed to be worth a massive $250 million (approximately R2.15 billion) over 10 years, has been in the making for the last few months at a time when the 23-year-old Ulsterman has cemented his position as the top golfer in the world.

During that time McIlroy has been shedding the coporate linkups he has had since he exploded onto the international stage in 2007 notably with golf equipment giants Titleist and sunglasses company Oakley.

The latest in this line was the Dubai hotel group Jumeirah, who announced on Tuesday that they had severed their ties with the player after having been his first corporate sponsor in 2007.

Nike, who insist that their star clients, among them Tiger Woods, are dressed from head to toe in its signature "swoosh" logo, have confirmed that there will be a "major announcement" at Abu Dhabi's Fairmont Hotel on Monday featuring the president of the company's golf division Cindy Davis and an unspecified "special guest."

McIlroy, was in Dubai at the start of the week after flying in from Australia where he was with girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki ahead of the Australian Open which starts in Melbourne next week.

He is due to open his 2013 campaign in nearby Abu Dhabi next Thursday where Woods will also be in competition for the first time this year.

If the deal with Nike is confirmed at $250 million, it would be the most lucrative endorsement ever negotiated in golf, confirming McIlroy as golf's shining light in place of Woods, who has seen his image tainted by a 2009 sex scandal and subsequent loss of form.

McIlroy's performance with his new Nike clubs and ball will be under close scrutiny in the emirate with people such as six-time major winner Nick Faldo warning that even the best of players can take time to adjust to the feel of new equipment.

He will also likely come under questioning again for his position on who to represent at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, should he qualify.

McIlroy as a northern Irishman would have the choice of playing for either Britain or Ireland and he would cause offence no matter which way he went. He even said recently that might not play at all in Brazil faced with such a no-win situation.

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