Golf’s worst kept secret has been made official! Rory has finally been unveiled as a new face for Nike Golf this afternoon in a deal that will see him raking in the dollars. Remember he’s still only 23, yet he was World No. 1 last year by a mile! Nike will be hoping that Rory keeps up his good form in 2013 as he is their major investment for the future.

McIlroy will now team up with the same sponsors as Tiger Woods and the speculation is that the 10-year deal will be worth over £150 million to the 23 year old. The increase is up some 500% on his previous sponsorship deals – making him the highest earning golfer after Tiger.  Nike has already added considerably to its brand ambassadors in 2013, with the likes of Nick Watney, Kyle Stanley, Thorbjorn Olesen and Seung Yul Noh all switching to Nike this year.

“I chose Nike for a number of reasons,” McIlroy said. “It’s a company and a brand that really resonates with me. It’s young. It’s athletic. It’s innovative. They are committed to being the best, as am I.

“Signing with Nike is another step towards living out my dream.”

Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, added: “Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere.

“He is the epitome of a Nike athlete and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf’s history. We are looking forward to partnering with him to take his remarkable career to the next level.”

2013 will be a very big year for Nike Golf – if Tiger fails to win another Major they will be the ones who people will blame!

However it’s not all been plain sailing for the World No. 1 in terms of changing sponsorships. Most previous sponsors have gone quietly – such as the likes of Jumeirah and Santander, however the American clothing company Oakley have been pursuing the Northern Irishman through the courts in California over what it claims was first refusal to renew a deal that ran out at the end of 2012.

The critics have had their say on the situation as well. Some have wandered if there will be “teething problems” with getting used to his new equipment. It has also been mentioned that Rory used to love his Titleist fairway woods, something that professionals know is the hardest clubs to be fitted for – so this could potentially prove to be a problem for the young man.

However if he does manage to continue at the rate of last year, where he earned over $13 million in prize money, he will be pushing for a place on the top earners list and probably most notably – he will be the youngest he doesn’t turn 24 until May!

The Ulsterman has spent a total of 30 weeks as World No. 1, however this is nothing compared to Tigers incredible record of 281 consecutive weeks at the top totalling 623 weeks overall!

Sir Nick Faldo has, however, questioned the action of dumping the Titleist clubs and balls with which he was so successful in winning his two majors with – for money that Nike has to offer. Sir Nick, a former World No. 1 himself, has not been too graceful in attacking Rory over his move which he believes is embedded in dollar signs, but does he have a good point about his concern with regards to the switch in equipment and the potential penalties of doing so?

“As professional golfers we get a millisecond of feedback from impact, and if you get that lovely feedback and the ball goes where you want it, that’s a tick in the confidence box. But if you think, ‘oh, that felt different’ and the ball doesn’t go where you want it to go, it starts to eat away at your confidence,” Faldo said.

Here is a list of the top earners in the world of sport just to put into perspective who the young man is up there with:

Making up the top 10 of earners in the world of sport:

Boxer Floyd Mayweather ($85m)

Golfers Phil Mickelson ($60m) and Tiger Woods ($56m)

Tennis player Roger Federer ($51.5m)

Footballers David Beckham ($46m), Lionel Messi ($41.25m) and Cristiano Ronaldo ($40.25m)

Basketball players Kobe Bryant ($48m) and LeBron James ($45m)

Racing driver Fernando Alonso ($40m)