Changing clubs won't make major difference, say McIlroy


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 US PGA champion’s switch to Nike clubs next season, a deal that media reports estimate will be worth €195 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 yesterday if he had any concerns the change would jeopardise 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 €6.25 million DP World Tour Championship that starts tomorrow, the end-of-season showpiece event on the European Tour.

“I’ve started the process of trying a few new things,” he said. “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 yesterday.

“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’.” McIlroy said he felt “proud and honoured” 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 urged the tour to consider recalibrating the money-list ahead of the tournament in order to keep the excitement going until the final event.

“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 US play-off series.

Ultimately he knows he will be remembered for his wins in the “big four” tournaments but refuses to put additional pressure on himself 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,” he said. “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.”

Race is run Donald urges Tour rethink

Luke Donald has urged the European Tour to consider recalibrating the money-list to avoid the anti-climax that will be apparent at this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

Nine days ago, Rory McIlroy guaranteed he would end the year in top spot on the European money-list and in doing so, the 23-year-old took much of the gloss off the showcase event in Dubai.

Donald believes officials need to find a way to ensure there is a blockbuster finish to the season. “This week is a little bit more of an anti-climax than the European Tour would probably want,” he told reporters yesterday.

“The tour may want to think about adding a scenario where that doesn’t happen and incorporate either a play-off system or some other way to make sure that it goes down to the wire. I think that would make it more exciting.”

Twelve months ago, Donald finished third in Dubai to become the first player to win the order of merits on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I remember last year I felt like I had a target on my back, that was quite a lot of pressure on my shoulders, and I think it reflected within the tournament,” the 34-year-old said.

“It had more story lines and certainly it’s something the European Tour should at least consider.”

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