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Nike's golf pull-out won't cause McIlroy any concern

By Adam McKendry

Nike’s decision to pull out of golf equipment manufacture leaves four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and former world number one Tiger Woods in the market for new clubs.

But Rory will not be out of pocket as the company will continue to develop footwear and clothing for the golf market but will “transition out” of making clubs, balls and bags.

Three years ago McIlroy signed a 10-year deal with Nike worth a reported £150million, while 14-time major winner Woods has been their brand leader in the sport since 1996.

McIlroy’s primary contract is up at the start of 2018, and he surely will not be doing anything rash with the Ryder Cup approaching next month. In fact, it is possible that the 27-year-old will see it out with his existing clubs and use the same ball.

However, due to the pace of technology and the financial implications, he will definitely join the playing staff of another clubmaker, while perhaps still wearing Nike products on a reduced deal.

Whether this will all add up to £15m is dubious, although his team would be confident of securing several endorsement deals to fill the hole. Nike insisted on head-to-toe branding.

It is from a playing perspective that McIlroy may harbour most fears. In 2013, he endured his worst campaign since becoming a major-winner in 2011 as he struggled to get used to the clubs.

The next season he enjoyed his finest to date with back-to-back majors as well as three other titles. The last two years have not witnessed such a success rate, but that has been more to do with his putter than his ball-striking. Apart from the putter, the clubs have not been to blame.

McIlroy will obviously be in demand, with Titleist, with which he won the 2011 US Open and the following year’s US PGA, Calloway, Mizunon, and new kids on the range PXG, the favourites to secure the services of the Irishman.

• Michael Hoey has progressed to the second round of the Paul Lawrie Matchplay at Archerfield Golf Club in Scotland after he won his first round tie yesterday.

The Ballymoney man recorded a straightforward 4&3 win over home hopeful David Drysdale, capped off with an excellent chip-in on the 14th from the rough.

Hoey now faces Englishman Matthew Southgate in the second round today with the third round ties taking place in the afternoon.

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