Rory McIlroy’s rocket ride to immortality publicly entered its second phase Monday with the official announcement of his sponsorship with Nike, whose equipment and apparel he will exhibit starting this week at his 2013 debut beside Tiger Woods, Nike’s first golfing icon, in the United Arab Emirates.
To reach the next stratosphere of stardom, McIlroy, 23, of Northern Ireland, had to separate from Titleist, the club and ball manufacturer that got him started, and ride the global marketing might of Nike, which, he said in a news conference, “has always been associated with the best athletes in the world.”
McIlroy, the world No. 1 and the only active golfer younger than 40 other than Woods to have at least two major titles, joins a constellation of sports superstars representing the swoosh label that includes Woods, the tennis player Roger Federer and the Miami Heat’s LeBron James. “It’s a proud moment for me, and something I’ve been looking forward to,” McIlroy said.