McIlroy says new clubs won't change old habits
DUBAI (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has no fears that ditching the Titleist equipment that has taken him to number one in the world will result in any diminishing of his golfing powers.
The U.S. PGA champion's switch to Nike clubs next season, a deal that media reports estimate will be worth $250 million over 10 years, has been the subject of much debate with six-times major winner Nick Faldo among those questioning his decision.
Asked by reporters in Dubai on Tuesday if he had any concerns the change would jeopardize his confidence or form, McIlroy replied: "No, not at all.
"I think all the manufacturers make great equipment nowadays and it's all very similar - a lot of them get their clubs made at the same factories. I don't think it will make any difference."
Twice major winner McIlroy will bid a fond farewell to his old clubs at the $8 million DP World Tour Championship that starts on Thursday, the end-of-season showpiece event on the European Tour.
"I've started the process of trying a few new things," said the 23-year-old Northern Irishman.
"I'm still playing with my Titleist clubs - this is the last week - but I've tinkered about a little bit with the new ones, enough to feel comfortable going into next season."
McIlroy is delighted with the progress he has made this season and European Tour chief executive George O'Grady presented him with a special money clip on Tuesday.
"I thought we would take this moment to acknowledge the extraordinary performance of Rory this year, winning our Race To Dubai money-list before coming to the final championship, and winning the money-list in America too," said O'Grady.
"He played brilliantly all year and conducted himself in a manner where anybody would be proud to say, 'He's our champion'."
LIST OF GREATS
McIlroy said he felt "proud and honored" to join the long list of greats to have won the European money-list.
"I've had four goes at it and it was great to be able to do it this year," he added.
"It's been a phenomenal year but I've still got one tournament left and I want to finish the season strong by picking up two trophies at the end of the week."
McIlroy agreed with many of his fellow players when he said the importance of the DP World Tour Championship had been diluted after he clinched the money-list title nine days ago.
However, he disagreed with Ryder Cup team mate Luke Donald who earlier in the day urged the tour to consider recalibrating the money-list ahead of the tournament in order to keep the excitement going until the final event of the season.
"I think the format is good," said McIlroy. "It's a season-long race - that's the way it is.
"I guess it is a bit of an anti-climax this week but as I said earlier I would love to pick up both trophies come Sunday."
McIlroy was undoubtedly influenced by the fact he missed out on overall victory in the FedExCup despite having won two of the four tournaments in this year's U.S. playoff series.
Ultimately he knows he will be remembered for his wins in the 'big four' tournaments but he refuses to put on any additional pressure by targeting Jack Nicklaus's record haul of 18 major victories.
"I've always said I'm never going to put a number on it," said the 2011 U.S. Open winner. "I don't want to do that, I just want to get my third.
"When I get my third then I want to try and get my fourth. A career grand slam is probably the next obvious goal," added McIlroy referring to a clean sweep of the British Open, U.S. Masters, U.S. Open and U.S. PGA Championship.
(Editing by Justin Palmer)