Tiger Woods a tap-in away from Nike deal
By Stephanie Wei under Tiger Woods


Tiger Woods is close to inking a new deal with longtime equipment and apparel sponsor Nike, which will keep the 14-time major champ “emphatically” as golf’s highest-paid endorser, according to his agent Mark Steinberg, via a report by ESPN.com’s Bob Harig.

[W]e’re down to the very, very short strokes right now … I would expect we would come out with some sort of joint announcement when we get the paperwork signed. I hope this is viewed as a pretty bold statement.

Woods expects the deal to be finalized potentially by the U.S. Open, which is just a week away, and he even revealed that he casually shopped other manufacturers.

“[The document’s] just got to get in front of me,” Woods said Sunday after finishing in a tie for 65th at the Memorial Tournament. “Just a matter of time.”

With Woods a potential free agent in the equipment market, there existed the possibility that after 17 years he could move on to another company and forgo the Swoosh. “There’s always opportunities out there, and you have to look at all sides of what could happen,” Woods said.

But Steinberg said it was never serious, especially since Nike has been Tiger’s oldest and most loyal sponsor. (As you may recall, they stuck with Tiger during the whole sex scandal with all the Vegas types.)

Steinberg would not discuss financial terms or length, saying only that the new deal is for multiple years and that “Tiger started his professional career with Nike in 1996. He has a long way to go in his career, but I feel with the type of deal we’ve constructed … I feel confident that he will be with Nike for his entire career.”

Tiger’s current contract –which is worth an estimated $20 million a year — was signed in 2006 and expires sometime before the yearend.

Woods is not only “back” (I really hate that way of describing things) atop the world rankings with his stellar play on the links — he’s won four times this year already — but he’s also “back” atop Forbes’ rankings of highest paid athletes.

Forbes estimates that Woods took home $78.1 million over the last year from prize money, endorsements, appearance fees and golf course design work.