Rory McIlroy's $250m reason to just do it
HARDLY a day can pass, it seems, without fresh 'news' about Rory McIlroy, whether it's the hundreds of millions of dollars he's about to earn from a rumoured sponsorship deal with Nike or the $10m he's reputedly invested in a house in West Palm Beach.
Speculation that McIlroy has bought a new home in south Florida is a little off the mark. The world No 1 still intends renting quarters in the US for the first half of his 2013 season.
The Nike story is not so easily dismissed.
Suggestions they want to sign McIlroy on a supposed 10-year-deal worth a notional $250m first appeared in the blogosphere following his victory at the 2011 US Open, then resurfaced in August following another record-breaking Major win at the USPGA.
The viral story has spread into the print media here and in Britain, even making it onto BBC radio, despite the absence of any corroboration from Nike, McIlroy's career-long equipment provider Titleist, the Ulsterman's management team or, indeed, himself.
Still, given the reputation Nike shares with the Mounties for always getting their man, once his name appears on their 'most-wanted' list, it would come as no surprise if McIlroy appeared with a swoosh on his chest and new clubs in his hands in 2013.
However, veritable contractual mountains would have to be moved in the background to achieve that end -- for a start, I understand McIlroy's commitments to Titleist do not end this year, despite widespread suggestions to the contrary.
Given the sum mentioned, McIlroy probably would be expected to make a commitment to Nike of the same exclusive nature as that agreed by Tiger Woods, who only wears their logo.
In that event, accommodation would also have to be reached with Oakley, Banco Santander and Audemars-Pigaut, who currently figure prominently on McIlroy's apparel, though the three-year contract he agreed with Jumeirah in January 2010 concludes in the new year.
Sorting out the complex and diverse array of contracts to accommodate one overall sponsor would be a huge task.
Yet where there's a will (and $200m-plus!), it's fair to assume there's a way.
It's not McIlroy's problem, as he made clear in the run-up to today's first round of the BMW Shanghai Masters. The player deflected all sponsorship questions to Conor Ridge, head of his current management team at Horizon, who insisted: "It is not our policy to pass comment regarding any industry speculation related to our players."
The Holywood star expected his Titleist clubs to do the talking once again this morning when teeing up with Justin Rose and Lee Westwood in an elite 78-man field at Lake Malaren.
Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke, Michael Hoey, Shane Lowry and Paul McGinley also joined in the hunt early today for this year's €888,560 first prize.
Meanwhile, Woods was expected to draw a huge crowd to The Mines Resort in Kuala Lumpur for today's opening round of the PGA Tour-sanctioned CIMB Classic.
Live, Sky Sports 1, 6.0am