Tiger Woods made the most significant move away from his equipment manufacturer Titleist by using a Nike ball during a practice round of the TPC of Europe in Germany.
Woods played with the new Nike Tour accuracy ball in favour of his normal Titleist Professional ball in order to give it a test run under tour conditions.
“I’ve been testing it for a few months — basically I wanted a test round on the tour,” he said after shooting a 2-under-par 70 in the first round of the TPC of Europe in Hamburg. “If I think, it’s viable to switch, I’ll switch. If not, I’ll go back to my ball.”
Woods did not violate his contract with Titleist, but it is sure to send a tingle down the spine of one of the world's biggest equipment manufactures as it may signify the end of the relationship between Woods and Titleist.
Woods had his contract with Titleist re-negotiated last year after a legal battle between the two giant companies and according to his latest contract, Woods has the option of ending the $2m a year contract with Titleist at the drop of a hat. Titleist can no longer use any images of Woods in any of their promotions, thanks to the legal battle won by Nike.
Woods, who only wears Nike clothing, will join a growing list of names who have switched to using the Nike ball and his name will surely push Nike to the fore in the increasingly competitive premium end ball market.
Nike, hoping to make a big move in the Golf world are keen to have Woods all to themselves. Woods will join the likes of Open Champion Paul Lawrie, Notah Begay, Craig Stadler, Michael Campbell and Paul Azinger if he switches to the Nike Tour accuracy ball and Nike are currently negotiating a five year contract with Woods rumoured to be worth in the region of $80m.
"Let's say he does switch. That would be huge for us. Golf is a business where it's tough on the equipment side to break through. For him to play our product says a lot about it." said Bob Wood, president of Nike Golf.