black and red polo shoes will no longer make clubs
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facebook email Tiger Woods’ agent says that his client will continue his relationship with Nike even though the company is now offering a smaller variety of products. (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Nike announced Wednesday that it is throwing its clubs, balls and bag into the water hazard and giving up on manufacturing the sports’ equipment to re focus its attention on apparel.
“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” said Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brand. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”
The move also means that some of golf’s biggest names Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Michelle Wie will be looking for new equipment sponsors in the future.
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Woods’ agent said that the shift “doesn’t change” his client’s relationship with the company that signed him when he turned pro in 1996.
Rory McIlroy just began playing with Nike clubs in 2013. (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
“He’s been the most loyal ambassador and longest standing for Nike Golf. That doesn’t change,” Mark Steinberg told The Associated Press. “It just means he’ll likely have some different equipment in the bag, whether that’s tomorrow, next month or a year from now. Tiger and I have been talking about this the last couple of days. We have a very sophisticated, legitimate plan in place and we’re going to see it through.”
Woods, of course, provided Nike with its signature golf moment when he won the 2005 Masters with a birdie chip in on the 16th hole at Augusta. The ball’s roll toward the cup and dramatic pause before dropping in with the Nike swoosh front and center on TV screens was the perfect advertisement for the Oregon based behemoth. He began playing with Nike irons in 2002 and by 2010 every club in his bag carried the famous logo. David Duval was the first player to win a major with Nike equipment at the 2001 British Open.
But their equipment has been criticized by some, most notably Phil Mickelson, who said that Woods was playing with “inferior” equipment in an interview with Golf Magazine. Mickelson offered a backhanded compliment by saying Woods was the only player good enough to “overcome the equipment he’s stuck with.”
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Rory McIlroy ditched Titleist for Nike in 2013, a move that Nick Faldo called “dangerous” from the outset.
Rory McIlroy (l.) and Tiger Woods gave Nike Golf a formidable 1 2 marketing punch. (Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News)
“Rory very simply messed with a winning formula,” Faldo said in 2013, though McIlory has won as many majors with Nike sticks (2) as he did with Titleist.
Rich Beem, a former PGA Championship winner, said that he ran into McIlroy a week before the PGA and got the sense that he wanted to try out a new putter but couldn’t “because of contractual obligations.”
Nike did not say how the move would affect its golf equipment staff, either the representatives on tour or at the “Oven” in Fort Worth, Texas, where the clubs were made.