In the photo: Tiger Woods won his 15th major at the Masters in 2019, from Getty Images/BBC
In a surprising turn of events, golf legend Tiger Woods announced the end of his 27-year partnership with Nike. The iconic collaboration began in 1996 when Woods turned professional and became synonymous with his illustrious career.
Woods expressed gratitude to Nike co-founder Phil Knight, acknowledging the pivotal role Knight’s passion and vision played in bringing them together. The announcement sparked nostalgia as Woods reflected on the incredible moments and memories created during their enduring alliance.
Mark Steinberg, Woods’ agent, confirmed the conclusion of the partnership, emphasising the remarkable journey and describing it as an “amazing run” and a “great partnership.” Nike, in response, posted a heartfelt message on social media, recognising Woods for challenging norms and breaking barriers in the world of golf.
The financial aspect of the collaboration was also highlighted, with Woods initially signing a groundbreaking five-year, US$40 million deal in 1996. Subsequent renewals saw the partnership’s value soar, with the latest reported deal in 2013 estimated at US$200 million.
Recent years witnessed signs of strain in the relationship, notably when Woods opted to wear FootJoy shoes after his 2021 car crash, citing better comfort for his injuries. Despite these shifts, Woods remained an influential figure for Nike, contributing iconic moments like his 2005 Masters victory, which featured the unmistakable swoosh on full display.
The split comes at a time when Nike is reevaluating its golf business, having discontinued hard goods in 2016. Woods’ departure raises questions about the company’s continued investment in golf, especially considering its recent plans to cut US$2 billion over the next three years.
As Woods embarks on a new chapter, speculation arises about his future brand partnerships. The golfer, optimistic about his return to the game, hinted at a potential announcement at the upcoming Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles.
The separation marks the end of an era, leaving a significant void in the golf market. Woods, a generational athlete, not only redefined the sport but also played a crucial role in Nike’s growth as a leading global brand in golf apparel.
While the specifics of the split remain undisclosed, both parties expressed gratitude for their shared journey. As Tiger Woods looks forward to the next chapter in his storied career, the sporting world awaits announcements that may reshape the landscape of golf partnerships.