The Jumeirah Group isn't renewing its five-year sponsorship with top-ranked Rory McIlroy, the luxury hotel chain has announced, which seemingly paves the way for the world's top-ranked golfer to finalize his much-rumored endorsement deal with Nike Golf.
Jumeirah was McIlroy's first corporate sponsor upon turning pro, and has had its logo on his cap for the past five seasons. McIlroy previously cut ties with Oakley , which has had its logo on his shirt, and with Titleist, whose clubs he has played .
These moves appear to clear the path for a “clean” Nike deal in which the Swoosh would be the only logo visible on McIlroy's clothing. Rumors abound that a Nike arrangement in which he wears Nike apparel and plays Nike gear, would be worth as much as $20 million a year. Such an agreement would give Nike both of golf's two biggest stars in McIlroy and Tiger Woods, who has been with the company since he turned pro in 1996.
McIlroy's deal, which likely will be announced next week as he begins his 2013 season at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, would be the climax of an active signing season for Nike Golf. In recent days, the company has announced new endorsement deals with 2011 FedExCup champion Nick Watney as well as rising stars Kyle Stanley of the United States, Seung-yul Noh of South Korea and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.
On Dec. 31, Nike tweeted out a mock-up of an ad showing five silhouettes. With Watney, Stanley, Noh and Olesen in place, that fifth and final spot – right there in the middle – likely will belong to McIlroy.