Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Huge deal 'won't change' McIlroy

Rory McIlroy has signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Nike

Rory McIlroy's eye watering wealth will not change him, according to friends who knew him at a time when every penny counted.

"He has all the money he needs, but it's not the money any more. It's about winning majors and staying the world's No.1," said his uncle Colm. "He'll just be the same Rory - up for the craic, a joke and the banter."

His new multi-year sponsorship deal with sports manufacturer Nike, reportedly worth £150 million, means he becomes one of the richest sportsmen on the planet but just a few years ago his parents worked all hours to pay for their only child's golf - Gerry as a barman with two jobs, and mother Rosie, on night shift at a factory making masking tape.

His father also swept the changing room floors of a nearby sports club to make ends meet. They still live in Holywood, Co Down, but apart from the occasional visit, it is unlikely Rory will return for any length of time.

Home now is a luxury pad he bought before Christmas at West Palm Beach, Florida which he shares with his girlfriend, tennis star Caroline Wozaniacki. He had a huge house in the hills above Belfast, complete with practice area, but that is up for sale - another sign of his plans for a permanent life on the other side of the Atlantic.

Two men, one of them an international businessman and the second based in London, are bidding for the property.

Michael Rodgers, the estate agent handling the £2 million sale, said: "With such earning power, can you really blame Rory? It is not as if he's 65 with a limited life. He is only 23, and it is all there in front of him. His earning capacity knows no bounds, and good luck to him. He is such an inspiration to so many youngsters."

His decision to switch sponsors had been on the cards for months. Friends claimed he has been practising with his new clubs since the day after Europe triumphed over the US in the Ryder Cup at Medinah, Chicago, last September.

But no matter what he carries in his bag - or the amount in his bank balance - Rory will be the same Rory, according to Stephen Crooks, 23, head professional at Holywood. His game will not change either, no matter the new equipment. He said: "The first four or five years on the tour hasn't changed him, and I doubt very much if the clubs will. The money certainly won't.

"The last time he was in Holywood he helped raise £60,000 for the club which is into the next stage of major refurbishment, including a new professional shop for myself. That's the sort of impact he has made. It happens everywhere he goes."

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