Rory McIlroy is in Shangai today as he returns to competition at the BMW Masters Championship. He is truly determined to end his best season as both PGA Tour money leader and the European Tour No. 1. A feat only matched by Luke Donald in 2011. McIlroy has joined 10 of his victorious European Ryder Cup teammates and 28 of the leading 30 on the European money list for the tournament starting Thursday on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course at Lake Malaren Golf Club.
But outside the ropes rumors have been buzzing around the golf industry that this could be Rory McIlroy last tournament wearing and playing with Titleist equipment. The Irish golfer is rumored to be about to sign the dotted line with sportswear giant Nike to join Tiger Woods in a 1 – 2 world dominance team, in a deal worth $250 million (€191 million) over 10 years. McIlroy contract expires at the end of 2012 and at least one source inside Titleist remaining anonymous leaked the news that negotiations to re-sign McIlroy were stalled. It is thought that Nike are anxious to sign the 23-year-old clean cut professional as soon as possible, after cutting all ties with cyclist lance Armstrong in the wake of the doping scandal.The brand continued its endorsement deal with Tiger Woods in the wake of his sex scandal in 2009.
In a statement before his practice round McIlroy told an Irish reporter “These rumours have been going around for years and it seems to always come up at this time of the year, I leave it up to Conor (Ridge, McIlroy’s manager) to sort out as it leaves me to concentrate on my golf.
As of late yesterday McIlroy’s management company responded to this allegations “It is our policy not to get involved in any industry rumors or speculation relating to any of our players”. McIlroy is considered the second most marketable sports star in the world at the moment, just behind Brazilian footballer Neymar.