SBD/January 21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

McIlroy Reverts To Titleist Putter At Abu Dhabi Despite Recent Nike Deal

McIlroy said the change in putter came down to a "weight issue" with the club
Rory McIlroy caused “a stir on Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship when he reverted back to his old Titleist Scotty Cameron putter for Round 2” less than one week into his career with Nike Golf, according to Rex Hoggard of GOLFCHANNEL.com. McIlroy kept his Nike “head cover on the Cameron." McIlroy said, “I felt the greens were pretty slow out there. The Nike putter that I used (on Thursday) is a little light and it was just a weight issue more than anything else. I feel like the one I used today was a little heavier and I was able to get the ball to the hole.” McIlroy declined to talk about the specifics of his Nike contract and “whether he was allowed to revert to his old putter under the terms of the agreement.” He said, “It’s the first week out. I wouldn’t look too much into (the new equipment)” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/18). McIlroy’s agent Conor Ridge said, "It's going to take time. He's got to work the clubs in gradually" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/19). GOLFCHANNEL.com’s Hoggard noted Nike Golf “did not disclose the fine print of its new deal with McIlroy and it seems likely there are addendums penciled into the deal that would allow him” to use his old Titleist putter. But if that is the case, then “why not ease into the new bag from the outset?” (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/18). In Portland, Allan Brettman noted neither McIlroy nor fellow Nike endorser Tiger Woods made the cut at Abu Dhabi, not how Nike Golf President Cindy Davis “envisioned the week ending.” But Davis said, "It's early in the year. I think -- especially early in the year -- you're watching a lot of these guys getting the rust off, getting ready for the year” (OREGONLIVE.com, 1/18).

PLAYING PARTNERS: McIlroy and Woods' new Nike commercial was a topic during GOLF.com's weekly roundtable discussion, and SI Senior Editor Mark Godich said, “I think it's great. Tiger comes off as likable. I also think that if this keeps up, Rory just might help Tiger rehabilitate his image.” SI’s Gary Van Sickle said, “The commercial is a winner, even after you learn that Rory and Tiger were never together for the filming.” Golf Magazine Senior Editor Mike Walker said, “The commercial explains why McIlroy went with Nike: they know how to create stars.” He added, “I don't think Tiger's ever shown that great a touch in ads. These Rory commercials will be good for him.” SI’s Alan Shipnuck said, “That is an unsung reason for signing Rory: Nike can recoup some of its investment in Tiger. They've hardly used him post-scandal. So much goodwill surrounds Rory that Nike is banking on some of it rubbing off on Tiger” (GOLF.com, 1/20).

CULT HERO? YAHOO SPORTS’ Brian Murphy writes the Nike swoosh on McIlroy’s hat makes it “look like he's been captured and brainwashed by a cult.” Murphy: “Rory moving to Nike from Titleist bothers me, primarily because it violates one of life's primary rules: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Even the “much-ballyhooed Nike spot with Tiger, while light and fun, feels unnatural.” Murphy: “Rivals don't need to hate each other, but a little intensity and dislike makes sports a little more vibrant. It feels like both guys are compromising a little bit too much for the Almighty Dollar” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/21).
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