It’s all about the brand, baby
Does Rory McIlroy’s move to Nike officially push Tiger Woods off center stage
Published on Friday, Nov. 09, 2012 08:37AM EST
Is the Tiger Woods era at Nike over? That’s how some business analysts view the soon-to-be arrival of Rory McIlroy at the Oregon-based sports apparel behemoth.
McIlroy is reportedly set to welcome in the new year with a $250-million deal with Nike after confirming he would not be back with Titleist/Footjoy once his current contract expires at the end of the year. Not only would that make McIlroy Nike Golf’s highest paid athlete but John Stone of New England Consulting Group says it would signal a passing of the torch from his new best friend and Nike’s longtime stablemate Tiger Woods.
“For Nike to go out and get McIlroy basically says, ‘Rory, you’re the official ‘it' guy in golf. It’s no longer Tiger,’” Stone tells ESPN.com’s Kristi Dosh. “It’s different when Nike says, ‘Tiger, move over,’ than when other pundits say, ‘Tiger has lost it. There’s no one else that Nike could have gotten that would have signified that the Tiger era is over and Rory is it.”
Stone also points out that this is as much about putting a fresh face on the Nike Golf brand as it is about wins and majors.
“I think the thing Nike is excited about is that Rory has a personality and a willingness to be a character and engage with people, and a willingness to use his personality,” Stone explained. “Tiger was withdrawn and aloof and above the brand a little bit. Tiger was always a little unapproachable. Rory has a chance to bring Nike Golf to a place where Tiger couldn’t bring it.”
IF IT AINT BROKE..: McIlroy’s imminent move to Nike has also produced dire warnings from those within golf that it could prove catastrophic to his game. If it aint broke, why fix it? While the world number one ranked player said he has “made no commitment to any company for next year”, he did speak of a process that should culminate in a decision/announcement “in the next few weeks.”
McIlroy’s good friend Graeme McDowell - who made a significant equipment change himself a couple of years ago - says whatever decision the fellow Irishman makes, it won’t be because of the money.
“What you do on the golf course is more important than how much money you’re making off it,” he tells the Daily Record/Sunday Mail. “Eventually the money will dry up and you have to keep producing the goods on the golf course, so I would never go to a company that had inferior equipment.
“So whoever Rory turns to, that company will be able to provide him with a certain level of equipment. But he’s not going there if he doesn’t like the equipment and he didn’t think he could compete.”
ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: Camilo Villegas felt like a lucky man, and it had nothing to do with his best round in nine months.
At some point this year, when Villegas was missing cuts or playing too early on the weekends and sliding farther down the PGA Tour money list, he realized he was far too miserable for someone who gets to play golf for a living. No matter how much he worked, it was hard to get anything out of practice without a good attitude.
“Sometimes you just wake up in the morning and you look at yourself in the mirror and you said, ‘You know what? Life is good and why am I miserable?’ Because that’s what happens when you’re playing bad,” Villegas said Thursday.
He chose to make a change, and now can only hope it’s not too late to save his job.
The Colombian with flair was considered a rising star in 2008 when he won consecutive FedEx Cup playoff events – the BMW Championship at Bellerive and the Tour Championship – to finish the season with more than $4.4-million and rise to No. 7 in the world.
He hasn’t won since then.
His world ranking has plunged all the way to No. 214. He wasn’t in any of the majors this year. And he was at No. 150 on the PGA Tour money list going into Disney, the final tournament of the year. Only the top 125 keep their full cards, and if Villegas were to slip out of the top 150, he would have to go to the second stage of Q-school.
Even that prospect no longer bothers him.
“Trust me, people remind you, ‘Hey, you’re 150th on the money list.’ And I’m kind of like, ‘Life is good. Just keep going,“’ Villegas said. “If you’re good at that game, you are out you will be back in. I mean, who knows? Just take it one shot at a time.”
BELLY ACHES: Phil Mickelson has joined the belly putter fray, calling any ban on the long stick “grossly unfair”.
“It’s not an issue that I’m involved with, I understand both sides. It’s just that I don’t think you can take away what you’ve allowed players to use, practise and play with for 30 years. I think it is grossly unfair,” said the four-time majors winner, who once dabbled with a long putter himself.
Not surprising Mickelson’s comments contrast with those of former world number one and rival Tiger Woods, who wants a ruling that the putter should be the shortest club in the bag.
The row has blown up since Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson and Ernie Els all won Major titles in the past two seasons using long putters, which are controversial because they can be steadied against the body.
Justin Rose said he thinks the long putters help some players, and it helps under pressure.
“I don’t think there’s as much nerves involved,” he said. “But it’s still very hard to make putts. Putting is an art form. You have to read the green. You have to start it. It’s not all about making a perfect stroke. You have to match up line and speed, and that can happen many different ways.”
Rose admitted he once tried a belly putter himself, during the final round of The Players Championship. He said he went into a golf shop and bought a long putter just to see how it worked.
“I toyed around with it, and it’s always felt great from 20 feet and on putting greens and on fairly flat surfaces,” he said. “And I thought, ‘I’m going to put it in play.’ First putt of the day, I have an 80-foot putt from the front edge of the green, lipped out. I thought, ‘This could be the future right here.“’
FOR SALE: PEI has put four provincially-owned courses up for sale with Tourism Minister Rob Henderson saying it’s “50-50” they will all be under private ownership when the golf season opens again next spring.
According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, the government is currently going through four proposals to either lease or sell off the Links at Crowbush Cove, Rodd Brudenell River Resort, Dundarave Golf Course and Mill River Golf Course. Two of the proposals are interested in all four courses, one is looking at just Crowbush and another is interested in just Mill River.
The government has asked all four to come back with what they call “firmer offers” by December.
While the government says it is in no rush to sell off the four courses, they are anxious to get out of the golf course management business after losing upwards of $1-million a year. The report claims Dundarave has never made a profit since it opened in 1999.
This is not the first time the province has put out the for sale sign. Back in 2009, the government was asking $40-million for the four courses but failed to get any serious interest.
WEST COAST SWING: Time is running out for Vancouver to become a stop in the 2013 PGA Tour Canada schedule. According to Brad Ziemer at the Vancouver Sun, the group taxed with finding a suitable sponsor figures they have about two or three week window to get on the revamped tour’s new schedule.
"We have had a few companies that have expressed interest and they are going through their due diligence process right now and we are hoping to hear back soon," said David Lee-Fay of Linx Marketing, which has run Canadian Tour events in Fort McMurray and Edmonton the past few years. “We're basically getting down to the wire now. We need to know in the next couple of weeks.
"If we are not successful in finding someone in the next short while, we will start focusing our attention on the 2014 schedule."
The last time the Canadian Tour staged an event in Vancouver was 2009 in Surrey.
“The intriguing thing about me is I don’t know which John Daly will show up on the golf course but I know it’s a more trying, more dedicated John Daly every day.” -- John Daly
Files from the Associated Press were used in this report