Last week, Rory McIlroy posted a video on Instagram showing him hitting a golf ball. The caption read, “Feels good to hit the driver again.” While golf fans all over the globe are likely to be glad that one of golf’s very best is returning from injury, his Nike handlers must have been relieved as well. After all, Nike Golf has apparently chosen McIlroy to replace Tiger Woods as its face. He makes $20 million a year in endorsements to wear that familiar Swoosh all over when he plays. However, a fun soccer game turned into a ruptured ankle ligament that held him out of the British Open and out of the golf betting lines for that one.
Inside Scoop at the Golf Betting Lines for Rory McIlroy’s Return to the PGA
Feels good to hit the driver again! ⛳️ https://t.co/3z07ujIehH
— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) August 6, 2015
While this meant that Jordan Spieth got all of the press – and almost made his way into a playoff that could have given him his third major of the year, with the PGA still to play – it also meant that Under Armour got a ton of exposure. Jordan Spieth wears Under Armour, and so every time Spieth showed up once again on television screens, that meant that Under Armour’s logo did as well. Under Armour’s deal with Spieth is ten years for $200 million, so just about what McIlroy is making from Nike. Under Armour’s contract has been a major boon. Since inked this deal, he won the Masters in the same week when Under Armour started selling its first golf shoe. He also won the U.S. Open.
There are some who thought that McIlroy might have to miss the rest of the golf year. However, he came out on Monday to announce that he would appear at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin when the PGA Championship opens. He told reporters that the ankle was 100 percent for the tasks at hand. Even if he is not playing up to his usual level, he will have Nike back out on the course – and it will be getting significant attention.
Both Nike and Under Armour have decided that the way forward in golf endorsements is to bet heavy on one big player, or maybe two. Right now, Under Armour’s big name is Spieth, while it also sponsors Hunter Mahan. Nike sponsors both McIlroy and Woods. Woods, of course, will be at the PGA Championship (as he was at the British Open), but he is no longer the presence that he once was. He has not won a major since 2008 and missed the cut at both the U.S. Open and British Open. McIlroy does have four major titles, while Spieth only has two, but if Spieth can finish ahead of McIlroy at the PGA Championship, he has an excellent shot at take the world’s #1 ranking away.
Even if Spieth might be a slight favorite over McIlroy on the course, Nike is still the favorite when it comes to marketing and social media. Even without McIlroy at the British Open, Nike got more social media mentions during the British Open. It is a reminder about how dominant Nike remains in sports. Even though Adidas was the official sponsor of the Women’s World Cup, for example, Nike got more mentions. Under Armour for now is relatively new to golf, but it hopes to emulate Nike’s dominance under Tiger Woods to build a golf line, using Jordan Spieth.