The Norman Transcript

National Sports

October 31, 2012

Phenom to contender, Rory facing biggest change yet

(Continued)

NORMAN —

All signs point to McIlroy signing with Nike, with one industry observer saying the deal could be worth upward of $20 million a year.

Adding to the speculation is whether Woods helped to recruit the kid. They have been extraordinarily chummy since August, and Woods raves about McIlroy. That’s not unusual. McIlroy is well-mannered, respectful and doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s fun to be around.

Woods and David Duval also became close toward the end of 2000, when they played together in the World Cup in Argentina and then flew together on Woods’ private jet to start the year at Kapalua. It wasn’t long before Duval, in a legal dispute with Titleist, signed on with Nike.

A Nike official said it would not comment on “rumors and speculation,” not even when it would announce its roster for the 2013 season. Nike has money to spend, and McIlroy won’t be the only player added to the Swoosh stable next year. Two people with knowledge of his plans say Nick Watney is headed from Titleist to Nike.

It might look as if McIlroy is headed down the same path as Woods, but the difference is in how they change equipment.

Woods spent five years switching out his equipment from Titleist to Nike, with an additional five years to leave his old Scotty Cameron putter.

McIlroy would have only two months.

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