If you didn’t know Tiger Woods suffered a traumatic injury and a grueling rehabilitation before his Sunday practice session at Augusta National Golf Club, there were no obvious visual clues to warn you.
Brand TW cap? Check.
A killer peach polo shirt you immediately searched for on Nike.com? Check.
Black shoes, black pants and not a hint of lameness? Check, check and check.
But on closer inspection, Woods’ shoe choice is where the eagle-eyed among his followers came to a startling conclusion: He had swapped his Nike swoosh for a pair of FootJoys. The brand’s Premier Series Packard model, to be exact.
Tiger Woods in Augusta right now wearing FootJoy Premiere Series golf shoes. 👀 pic.twitter.com/PfZtpPB1kx
—Pete Pappas (@PGAPappas) April 3, 2022
So ends a 26-year partnership with Nike…just kidding. The change is obviously temporary and the reason is hardly outrageous. Woods, as you’d expect, is looking for any additional support he can get as he seeks to return to competitive golf on a course with well-documented hilly terrain.
Still, its longtime outfitter was forced to issue a statement after the swap started making headlines on Sunday.
“Like golf fans around the world, we are thrilled to see Tiger back on the course,” Nike said in a statement. “He’s an incredible athlete, and it’s phenomenal to see him back in the game at this level. His story continues to transcend the sport and inspire us all. As he continues his comeback, we will work with him to meet their new needs.
The move came to fruition on Monday when Woods returned to the course wearing the white model.
And the visual confirmation… (📸 Getty Images) pic.twitter.com/MUHEgPyUCL
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) April 4, 2022
For his part, FootJoy declined to comment when contacted by Golf.com equipment editor Jonathan Wall, who noted that this isn’t the first time Woods has made a shoe-specific choice at Augusta before the Masters. He wore a 2011 Nike Tiger Woods model during the 2015 Masters following a recent swing change.
There is perhaps some bitterness on FootJoy’s part that a lasting pact is unlikely to be struck. But a healthy increase in online sales of the Packard first series, which sells for $199.99, should offer some consolation.