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Duval close to signing deal with Nike

David Duval, the only other player besides Tiger Woods to be ranked No. 1 in the world the past three years, is close to becoming his teammate at Nike Golf with a head-to-toe endorsement deal.

The deal would involve Duval wearing the Nike hat, clothes, shoes, and glove, and playing the Tour Accuracy ball that he used while paired with Woods in their victory at the EMC World Cup in Argentina, said an industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Nike spokesman Mike Kelly declined comment today, citing company policy on player negotiations.

The signing would be a huge boost for Nike Golf, and another sign that the swoosh is serious about becoming a major player in the golf equipment industry.

Since Woods switched from Titleist to the Nike golf ball in June, Nike's market share in the ball business has increased from less than 1 percent to nearly 5 percent, Kelly said.

Already this year, Nike has signed up Stewart Cink and Franklin Langham, both of whom finished in the top 30 on the money list. Adding Duval to the team would give Nike not only the No. 1 player in the world, but the guy considered his primary challenger.

Duval has been with Titleist ever since he turned pro, and still has three years remaining on his contract. The Nike deal could not be announced until those issues are resolved.

An industry source said Duval has an escape clause in his Titleist contract, but that clause was subject to interpretation. Titleist also has print and TV ads that feature Duval and have not been aired, so some production compensation could be in order.

Titleist chief Wally Uihlein declined comment.

Duval has been at odds with Titleist for the last two months of the season, primarily over the shoes. He started wearing Nike shoes when he returned from a back injury that kept him off tour for 10 weeks, and was coy went asked whether it was a sign of trouble with Titleist.

"All I can say is we're working hard on trying to resolve any issues there are,'' he said during the Tour Championship.

While Nike has been on a big spending spree during the offseason, so has Titleist.

Davis Love III and Jesper Parnevik, who were being courted by Nike, signed new deals with Titleist, and the company also signed Phil Mickelson to a lucrative deal.

It also signed Mark O'Meara, the first player to tout non-wound balls, who signed on to play the Titleist Pro VI ball that has been a big success.

Nike might not be done.

It also is pursuing Jack Nicklaus, who used the Nike ball in the Hyundai Team Matches last week in California, and Aaron Baddeley, who played the Nike ball when he won his second consecutive Australian Open last month.

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