Beyond the numbers, though, he’s among the most impactful athletes in Nike’s history—not quite MJ, but not quite anyone else, either. He played Nike clubs as long as the company made them, and he embraced the brand’s performance vibe in his signature shoes. Long before golfers were wearing AF1’s, he was creating spikes that had more in common with basketball shoes than anything released by FootJoy. But his relationship with the apparel company transcended any specific item. Nike was an athletics company, and Tiger was a better athlete than anyone else in the history of the PGA Tour. This was more than golf; Tiger was Nike and Nike was Tiger. Together, the duo churned out some of the most famous commercials in marketing history; together, they told the story of Tiger Woods and his family, weaving a narrative of sweat, tears, and triumph. On Tiger’s chest, the swoosh was an emblem signifying ruthlessness, clutch play, and domination.

Now, Tiger isn’t quite the same Tiger, and Nike isn’t quite the same Nike. The end of their relationship comes at an interesting time: Tiger is more of an ambassador figure in the game than an active participant, trying to chart the PGA Tour’s path forward. Nike, a company so profitable it often serves as a bellwether for the entire financial market, is gearing up to cut two billion dollars in costs. While it was shocking to see Tiger rocking FootJoys for the past two years as he recovered from foot surgery, the ending seemed like the rare mutual parting of ways with no hard feelings.

And the pairing made sense right up until the end. Tiger’s most recent competitive iteration—post-sex scandal but pre-car crash—found the star utilizing classic golf silhouettes to add some sauce to his outfits. In the sauce-free world of golf fashion, he was able to stand out even while eliminating his bold sartorial choices of yore. He went from edgy to classic, pairing solid colors together in polo/vest and polo/sweater layers. He was showcasing the closet of a maturing man, willing to add his own charisma to iconic styles. And yet, Nike’s Tiger Woods line remained one of the most popular collections in the industry. The choices got safer, but Tiger’s name was enough to move product. And a new generation of golfers and hypebeasts alike were reminded of how cool the original products were: When Nike re-issued the first ever Woods shoe earlier this year, most sizes of all three colors sold out immediately.

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