Rory McIlroy has changed his brand and model of fairway woods on the eve of the Masters, taking to Augusta National on Tuesday morning with a bag including newly-introduced TaylorMade fairway woods alongside Callaway irons and driver. The move once again highlights the Northern Irishman’s willingness to make key alterations in his bid to collect a Grand Slam of major championships.
McIlroy has been without an equipment contract since the turn of the year after Nike withdrew from golf club and ball manufacturing. The four-times major champion had been playing with Callaway Great Big Bertha fairways woods throughout the early part of 2017, but has switched to TaylorMade M2 three and five woods two days before the Masters.
It is believed McIlroy felt during earlier build-up work that these clubs were best suited to Augusta on grounds of shot shape and ball flight. On Tuesday, McIlroy played in the company of the rising Australian star Curtis Luck and Toto Gana, an amateur from Chile.
McIlroy’s readiness to make bold switches on or off the course when he feels sufficient impetus has marked his career, but he initially struggled when he switched from Titliest to Nike in 2013.
However the 27-year-old’s desire to be fully comfortable with the tools at his disposal has been endorsed by the fact he has not signed what would clearly be a highly lucrative deal with one or multiple equipment brands. McIlroy’s bag, a key commercial platform in itself, now bears the logo of his charity foundation rather than an external sponsor.
On Sunday, it was confirmed that McIlroy had extended his shoe and clothing partnership with Nike for another 10 years. Sources close to that agreement have revealed it could be worth in excess of $200m to McIlroy, thereby emphasising his status as one of the most marketable sportspeople on the planet.
In an interview published by Golf Digest on Tuesday, McIlroy admitted the strain of the Masters build-up. “Ask anyone who knows me, I’m a complete prick in the week leading up to Augusta,” McIlroy said. “But they understand and know that. It’s a stressful situation.”