By Terry Trucco
It’s hard to grab the US sports world’s attention the same day that a) Team USA wins basketball gold and b) the Olympics closing ceremony unfurls.
But an emphatic 13-under-par 275 at the PGA will do it. And on Sunday, 23-year-old Rory McIlroy, the affable Northern Ireland golfer, did it sporting a white cap emblazoned with the logo of Jumeirah hotels, the Dubai-based chain that includes New York’s Jumeirah Essex House.
This was Jumeirah’s second widely televised win using McIlroy’s head as a billboard (he pocketed the 2011 US Open touting Jumeirah). And we bet the chain is crowing over its good fortune in becoming his main sponsor back in 2007 when he turned pro at age 18.
Indeed, within hours of McIlroy’s win his picture – cap and all – graced Jumeirah’s home page (“Well done, Rory. We salute you!”)
The Dubai-based hotel group can thank its Chief Financial Officer Alaister Murray for signing McIlroy, whose official title is Global Brand Ambassador. Both Murray and McIlroy hail from the Northern Ireland town of Holywood (population: 12,000), where Murray spotted the golfer’s precocious talent and had the good sense to pounce. McIlroy signed a second three-year contract in 2010.
McIlory has said he thinks of Dubai as a second home and is a regular Jumeirah properties around the world (there’s no mention of whether he’s visited the Essex House though he’s apparently tried out the slides at Wild Wadi Waterpark and essayed the job of turtle handler at Burj al Arab, according to the hotel website).
Besides McIlroy, Jumeirah sponsors sailing, equestrian and golf events. Tennis, too, though there’s no word on whether the group may venture further into that area should their golf pro, who squires around Caroline Wozniacki, sign on for another three years.