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Tiger Woods to re-up with Nike, says ESPN

Scott Halleran

Tiger Woods is on the verge of inking a new contract with Nike that would keep the 14-time major champion No. 1 on the course and at the bank.

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg told ESPN’s Bob Harig that the world's top-ranked golfer would soon sign a new deal with his long-time equipment provider that would “emphatically” continue to earn him the most money of any other endorser in the game.

Woods has bounced back spectacularly from his off-course woes that lost him endorsement contracts from several companies, though Nike stuck with him. His seven wins since the March 2012 Arnold Palmer Invitational, including four this season, have supported the Beaverton, Ore., firm’s decision to keep throwing more cash at him than any other golfer, including his struggling stablemate Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy, reportedly making anywhere from $10-million to $20 million per year, had his Nike coming-out party in January in Abu Dhabi, promptly missed the cut in the Middle East, and a rocky season since continues to have observers wondering why the 2012 PGA Tour Player of the Year would change his equipment.

Though Woods did not immediately switch gear when he signed on with Nike, there has not been such intense second-guessing about Tiger's sticks of choice, and the partnership has, by all accounts, been profitable for both parties.

As for the official announcement proclaiming that Woods will likely retire a Nike man, don’t expect the ridiculous pomp and circumstance that greeted McIlroy’s admittance to the club. After all, Woods has been here before. He signed on with Nike in 1996 in a five-year deal reported to be in the $40 million range, reportedly re-upped for $100 million over another five years, and signed his current seven-year pact in 2006.

Steinberg told Harig he expected Woods to suit up for Nike for the rest of his playing life.

"Tiger started his professional career with Nike in 1996,” said Steinberg, who, as always, declined to talk specific dollars and cents. “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."

Harig noted that Golf Digest estimates Nike pays Woods more than $20 million per year, while Sports Illustrated’s tally puts his annual compensation at about $40 million. Steinberg told Harig the figures were “traditionally low.”

Nike will likely wait until after next week’s U.S. Open to announce Woods’ new deal, according to Harig.

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