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Michelle Wie West extends Nike partnership amid golf phase-out plans

Golfer Michelle Wie West plans to phase out of her pro golf career, but she has "extended her partnership" with Nike for five more years, where she will be an "athlete collaborator, getting more involved in design and the 'nitty gritty,'" according to Beth Ann Nichols of GOLFWEEK. Wie West is now part of the Nike Athlete Think Tank, a group of female athletes -- including Serena Williams, Sabrina Ionescu, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Simone Manuel -- who have "come together to help the brand break down barriers in women’s sport." She said, "It’s been a couple years coming where I’ve been slowly doing things that I’ve always wanted to do, but never had time to do. It’s been a lot of fun to learn and grow into areas that I always wanted to grow into." Nichols notes Wie West is preparing to "fully transition away from the LPGA." She plans to "compete in next week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Pine Needles and will then step away from the tour, with only next year’s Women’s Open at Pebble Beach remaining on her competitive golf calendar." However, she "won’t call it a retirement." She had "feared" that Nike might "end her contract after she stopped playing." Wie West: "I was definitely waiting for the heartbreaking call that Nike wouldn’t want to work with me, but it was the complete opposite." Omega, another early sponsor of Wie West’s, also is "staying with her for this next phase." Her other deals include MGM, Pitchbook and Berde Golf, plus investments/partnerships with Sportsbox.ai, Tonal, Blueland and LA Golf (GOLFWEEK.com, 5/26).

A CAREER MARKED BY FIRSTS: GOLF DIGEST’s Joel Beall notes Wie West “began her career achieving a series of firsts, among them becoming the youngest player to qualify for an LPGA event, the youngest to make a cut at a major, and youngest to win a USGA adult championship.” She “catapulted … to fame” by competing against men early in her career, including nearly making the cut at the ’04 PGA Tour Sony Open when she was 14. Wie West has ranked “among the most popular figures in the sport for the past two decades.” However, injuries “routinely prevented her reaching the heights her early success projected” (GOLFDIGEST.com, 5/26). GOLF.com’s Josh Berhow notes Wie West was “dubbed the next big thing in women’s golf at a young age” (GOLF.com, 5/26).

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