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McIlroy joins Tiger in big Nike deal

By AAP .
15 January 2013 10:46AM EST

RORY McIlroy and Tiger Woods are on the same team now - at least when it comes to sponsorship.

Nike on Monday confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in golf, announcing it had signed a multi-year deal with the top-ranked McIlroy for the Northern Irishman to use the company's equipment and apparel.

The deal means Nike now has golf's two biggest names representing its brand, as Woods has been with the sportswear company since turning pro in 1996.

The deal with McIlroy was announced in a lavish ceremony in the United Arab Emirates ahead of this week's Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, where he will use the company's equipment for the first time.

The event opened with a hologram of McIlroy swinging a club and included a video showing Woods, Roger Federer and Wayne Rooney welcoming him to Nike.

"Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time connecting with fans everywhere," said Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf.

She did not disclose any details of the deal, but industry observers have estimated it to be worth up between $20-$25 million a year.

McIlroy insisted he's not making the switch because of the money.

"I don't play golf for the money, I am well past that," McIlroy said.

"I'm a major champion and world No.1, which I have always dreamed of being, and feel this is a company that can help me sustain that and win even more major titles. At the end of 2013, if I have not won another major I will be disappointed."

McIlroy's switch to Nike had been widely expected. In October, McIlroy cut ties with Acushnet Co., which had supplied him with Titleist and FootJoy gear since he turned pro five years ago.

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