Tiger Woods & Nike
Tiger Woods and Nike: Here’s a look back at an iconic 27 years of golf and style
Tiger Woods and Nike became synonymous in the last 27 years of the two golf behemoths working together and becoming one of the most iconic and influential brand/ambassador partnerships in the history of sports. After 82 wins on the PGA Tour and 15 major titles wearing Nike, Woods announced that this chapter is closing and he will no longer be wearing Nike. The end of an era has come and the worlds of golf and fashion are turning a new page. What comes next? None of us know, but as we wait to find out, let’s take a look back at some of the most iconic Nike/Tiger moments over the last two decades.
1996: "Hello, World" Press Conference
It all started in 1996 when a 19-year-old Tiger Woods signed a $40 million endorsement deal with Nike ahead of his pro debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open. Nike had a noteworthy presence in golf since starting to develop product in 1984, but Woods' pro debut was (and remains today) one of the most highly anticipated moments in golf.
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The baby-faced Woods made his announcement in a thin-striped, loose-fitting polo with a white undershirt and gold chain underneath—a very 90s look in a golf fashion world that was ultra-athletic when baggy fits and simple stripes were the trend. Woods' Nike looks have remained relatively athletic over the years as golf fashion leans towards a more tailored and fitted look, but we’ve seen a resurgence of roomy 90s-inspired looks recently as golf and streetwear trends merge more frequently.
PGA TOUR Archive
1997: Pairing his Sunday red with the Masters green jacket
In April 1997, Woods won the Masters by 12 strokes. Whether you remember his red golf shirt with black side stripes or the oversized crewneck with the sleeves rolled up, we knew Tiger favored the color red, but this was the day the entire world recognized his Sunday signature.
PGA TOUR Archive
1998: The debut of TW’s Yin Yang Nike gear
Before repping the TW logo, Woods and Nike designed the Yin Yang logo as symbolism between Woods' balance of physical and mental gamesmanship, while also honoring Woods' Eastern and Western heritage. The Yin Yang logo became iconography of the first ever product line from Woods and Nike, where we began to see athletically driven apparel pieces surface in golf. In recent years, Nike has released commemorative products around major golf events, and in 2020 ahead of the U.S. Open, we saw a revamped version of the Yin Yang logo on the limited edition Nike "Tiger Slam" polo, with a red and black color scheme. The resale market also heavily features these “vintage Tiger” pieces.
Mike Fiala/NEWSMAKERS/Getty Images Lutz Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images
2001: The TW logo era begins
In 2001, Tiger’s original five-year contract was up, and he signed on with Nike for another five years for a reported $100 million, making him the highest paid athlete in the world. In the same year, Woods started playing Nike golf clubs, and shortly after, the "TW" franchise was introduced.
In this same year, he won his 11th Espy (he has 21 total today) and we got to see a little more of what off-course Tiger looks like style-wise.
2003: Enter the mockneck
Whether you like the mockneck look or not, Woods has cemented the style as a champion’s piece enough times to quiet any haters. He first debuted the mock turtleneck style golf shirt in 2003 at the Buick Invitational, igniting a debate on the appropriateness of the collar-style on the golf course. He's continued to wear the shirt since, including his win at the Masters in 2005 and again in 2019, sending quasi-golf-style-critics into a tizzy each time while watching the shirt sell out promptly on the Nike website concurrently.
Woods, rightfully so, never listened to the noise of the critics and lauded the look in a press conference ahead of the 2019 Masters
"I thought it was a pretty neat look back in the day," said Woods. "I was probably in a little better shape back in those days, but I had won events wearing the mock, and I've always enjoyed wearing them."
2005: Masters moment on 16
We’d be remiss not to mention the 2005 Masters chip that cemented Nike and Woods’ partnership, as the iconic Nike swoosh on his golf ball became a main character hanging on the edge of the 16th hole for a full second before it dropped. It was his first Masters win wearing his trusty red mockneck and a moment burned into the mind of every golf fan.
2013 TW 13 shoe debut
Considering the plethora of Nike collections inspired by top athletes, it feels shocking that Woods' namesake shoe didn't come until 17 years into his partnership with Nike. The Nike Tiger Woods '13 golf shoe was among the first of its kind—a high-performance, foot-conforming shoe that converted the comfort-focused cushion technology of the Nike Free Run (a style that Woods was a massive fan of) to translate to ready-to-wear on-course footwear. The iconic shoe reshaped and introduced a new style silhouette—a high ankle profile and thick midsole—that provided comfort and stability.
The shoe launched in 2013, as he renewed what would be his final contract with Nike. Woods was a massive fan of the Nike Free running shoe and he wanted to merge the Free’s comfort with the functionality of a golf shoe. Tobie Hatfield, brother of legendary Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield, was the brains behind the Nike Free technology and took Woods’ request and made the iconic TW13s.
For the 10-year anniversary since the initial TW '13 dropped, Nike re-released the shoes late last summer in new colorways. Players like Tommy Fleetwood and Sam Burns are spotted still rocking the TW '13 retros.
2018: PGA Championship walk-up outfit
One of the more unexpected moments in the history of Woods and Nike came off the course en route to his final-round tee time at the 2018 PGA Championship.
Our Chris Powers put it best when he covered the now-iconic look:
“He arrived at Bellerive on Sunday just before noon local time, rocking an absolutely savage backwards hat-sunglasses combination that suggested the rest of the field should just go home, because Tiger had already won his 15th major.”
Woods would go on to shoot a thrilling 6-under 64 for a second-place finish behind Brooks Koepka, but this moment perfectly embodied a more modern era of Woods’ style with the blade collar polo and much more fitted apparel, head-to-toe.