The seemingly amicable split between Tiger Woods and Nike that was announced this month has made some people scratch their heads. Why would the two split, especially if they are still outwardly on good terms? Woods released a statement announcing the split that said, “over 27 years ago, I was fortunate to start a partnership with one of the most iconic brands in the world. The days since have been filled with so many amazing moments and memories, if I started naming them, I could go on forever.”
Woods’s statement continued, “Phil Knight’s passion and vision brought this Nike and Nike Golf partnership together and I wanted to personally thank him, along with the Nike employees and incredible athletes I have had the pleasure of working with along the way.”
Nike published a social media post in response that said, “Tiger, you challenged your competition, stereotypes, conventions, the old school way of thinking. You challenged the entire institution of golf. You challenged us. And most of all, yourself. And for that challenge we’re grateful.”
SportsPro Media reported following the initial news break that, “Tiger Woods and Nike have proved that goodbyes don’t always have to be hard.”
Why did Nike and Tiger Woods end their partnership?
While Nike has not confirmed whether or not the partnership ended mutually or not, some reports believe this split may serve Nike as well as Woods. The Associated Press reported that the partnership between the athlete and the retail giant begin in 1996 after Woods had become pro as a result of winning his third U.S. Amateur in a row. Nike continued to stand by Woods even when his name and reputation were suffering after Woods admitted to infidelity in 2009.
The company spokeswoman at the time, Mariam Sylla said the sponsorship remained unchanged as Woods’ status remained unchanged as “best in his domain” as a golfer, according to The Guardian. While still standing by Woods, Nike followed in Adidas’s example of scaling back their investments in golf in 2016, according to SportBusiness.
Despite this news, the company still remained a loyal partner with Woods even during his 2019 comeback and triumph at the 2019 Masters.
SportsPro Media reported that the partnership split may seem amicable because today, “Woods is increasingly selective over the tournaments he plays because of injuries sustained in a car crash in 2021.”
In congruence with this news, RetailDive reported that in recent years the brand has further decided to establish new partnerships in order to meet their goals of, “actively managing our marketplace to serve consumers,” as CEO John Donahoe said. The end of the partnership for Woods may have ended on good terms as Mark Steinberg, Woods’s agent at Excel Sports confirmed the end of the deal saying, “it was time for the next chapter.”
The Associated Press reported that Steinberg further confirmed that a new deal is in the works and that Woods has been “optimistic” about playing once a month in 2024 beginning at the Genesis Invitational in Los Angeles.
Steinberg told the AP, “I anticipate there could be an exciting announcement,” at the Genesis Invitational. “People will ask if there is another chapter,” Woods wrote in a social media post. “Yes, there will certainly be another chapter. See you in LA!”