Nike signs Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley to multi-year equipment deals

Stephen Dunn

Still no Rory, but Nike inks pacts with Stanley, Watney.

It’s not the equipment news the golf world was waiting for, but Nike officially kicked off the free-agent signing season by unveiling on Tuesday the most recent members of its PGA Tour stable of golfers: Nick Watney and Kyle Stanley.

Rumors have been flying for months that Rory McIlroy was switching teams, from Titleist to Nike, and that announcement will, no doubt, come out of Beaverton soon. In the meantime, Tiger Woods’ gear supplier of choice formally welcomed Watney and Stanley -- each of whom is in the field at this week’s season-opening Tournament of Champions -- into the fold on January 1.

Stanley, whom we reported last month would leave Titleist for Nike, signed a multi-year contract covering all his equipment -- clubs, balls, footwear, gloves, apparel, caps, and accessories. He’ll make his Nike debut with the manufacturer’s new VR_S Covert driver.

The 25-year-old from Washington introduced himself to golf fans last year after he rebounded from a 72nd-hole collapse and playoff loss at Torrey Pines to win the Phoenix Open a week later by one stroke. A tour pro since 2011, Stanley was eighth in the league in driving distance last year.

“Kyle is a solid player with incredible talent,” Mark Thaxton, Nike’s global director of sports marketing operations, said in a statement. “He’s a terrific ball striker with incredible confidence. We know Kyle will shine as a Nike Golf athlete and we are thrilled to welcome him to the Nike family.”

Here’s what Stanley will be playing at Kapalua:

  • Driver: Nike VR_S Covert 9.5-degree, neutral position
  • Fairway Wood: Nike VR Pro Limited Edition 3-wood/15-degree
  • Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo (2), VR Pro Blades (3-9)
  • Wedges: Nike VR Pro 52-degree, 56-degree and 60-degree
  • Ball: Nike 20XI X
  • Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance
  • Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II

A five-time tour winner, Watney, also recently divorced from Titleist, is in for the full treatment as well. It is the first equipment change for the 31-year-old Californian in his 10-year professional career.

“Nick is a tremendous athlete with a passion for sports and the Nike Brand. He is a good, solid, consistent player and one of his main strengths is that he has no weaknesses,” said Thaxton about one of a handful of players who won twice in 2012. "We are thrilled to welcome Nick to the Nike family.”

Watney will also put Nike’s new VR_S Covert driver into play as well as the manufacturer’s VR_S Covert fairway woods.

Here’s what’s in Watney’s bag:

  • Driver: Nike VR_S Covert 11.5-degree, neutral position
  • Fairway wood: Nike VR_S Covert 3-wood/14-degree and 5-wood/18-degree
  • Irons: Nike VR Pro Combo (3-PW)
  • Wedges: Nike VR Pro 55-degree and 59-degree
  • Putter: Nike Method Prototype
  • Ball: Nike 20XI
  • Apparel: Nike Golf Tour Performance Collection
  • Footwear: Nike Lunar Control II
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