McIlroy signs $100m TaylorMade deal
For a newly-married man, Rory McIlroy really does have it all. The 28-year-old has signed a $10 million-a-year equipment deal with TaylorMade, which together with his Nike apparel contract means his off-course income alone in the next decade will be a minimum of $300 million.
No wonder McIlroy wore a huge smile when arriving at the Players Championship. Wearing the ring following his wedding to Erica Stoll last month, the Holywood, Co Down native said it all represented "a new chapter in my career". The UK tax exile spoke of the impending joy of finally being able to settle down in one country.
"I've finally got a home to go to," McIlroy said. "For the past few years, I've only been able to spend 120 days in the States and 90 in the UK, so I've felt like a proper nomad. From now on, I'm going to have a proper base, somewhere I can call home."
On a day when the PGA Tour announced a 10-year extension to its FedEx sponsorship, believed to be worth $650 million, McIlroy's latest windfall reinforces his position as golf's highest earner. He is also endorsed by Santander, Omega and Bose, which helped him top the 'Golf Digest' list in April with annual incomings estimated to be nearly $50m. Now it can amend that to $60m.
However, it is understood that McIlroy turned down more to sign with Callaway, TaylorMade's biggest rival, proving performance is still uppermost in his mind.
Nike's surprise withdrawal from the club-making business late last year forced McIlroy to look elsewhere. While he renegotiated his deal with Nike - essentially on the same money as before, but henceforth restricted to what he wears - McIlroy initially chose to play with a hybrid set, including both TaylorMade and Callaway clubs and a Titleist ball. Yet, after finishing seventh in the Masters at Augusta, McIlroy decided to go "back to the drawing board".
"I wasn't really happy with the ball and needed to do something," he explained.
"I tested extensively after Augusta, worked with the TaylorMade guys and the ball, and thought, 'Wow, this is what I need'.
"With the marriage and everything, it's a new chapter in my life, and I really feel with the new equipment as well, it's hopefully going to take me to that next level."
With Dustin Johnson now almost five points clear in the world rankings, a gap bettered only by Tiger Woods in the past two decades, McIlroy realises time is of the essence. But this week may be too soon after the club change and all the emotion of the marriage and honeymoon.
McIlroy and his new wife have been keen to keep private the details of the wedding at Ashford Castle in Co Mayo, although he did reveal who received the biggest hug. That was reserved for Sergio Garcia, the Spaniard who finally broke his Major curse at Augusta.
"I cried when I watched Sergio winning the Masters," McIlroy said. "For all Justin (Rose, who finished second) is a good friend of mine, after all that Sergio has been through, it was just such a special moment.
"I didn't see him until the wedding and gave him a bear hug. Sergio was still so excited he was dancing up and down talking about it. I've told Sergio I want to be a groomsman at his wedding (when he marries Angela Akins in Austin in July)." (© Daily Telegraph, London)