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Golf Australia Express : February 2013
IREMEMBER THE first time I made the big change. The year was 1991. I was seven years old. The weapons in question were a beast of a green Pro Kennex tennis racquet, which was being replaced by a bigger, more advanced offering from Dunlop. I hated it. My game will never be the same, I cried, ignoring the fact I had outgrown the Pro Kennex more than a year ago. The grip was too long, the head too heavy, the strings different. And, most importantly, the Dunlop was purple and I’d almost certainly be committing junior tennis social suicide by wielding it publicly. Changes in equipment are an emotional thing. Your favourite club/racquet/bat/ball quickly becomes practically another appendage, and the mere thought of wielding something new or unfamiliar is enough to spook most sportspeople. So what about when it’s not necessity that’s driving the change, but the almighty dollar? Then would you convert? You know what I’m talking about. All-conquering, almost unflappable, a multiple major winner and the world’s No.1 player, Rory McIlroy was rendered a gibbering mess almost instantly in January, simply by emptying the Titleists out of his bag and replacing them with new Nike sticks. And a truckload of cash. “I chose Nike for a number of reasons,” McIlroy said as he was unveiled as a Nike athlete. Yes you did, Rory. Somewhere between 100-200 million reasons over five to 10 years, if reports are true. But at what price does a giant bag covered in dollar signs come? The big tick became a big cross when McIlroy carded consecutive 75s to miss the cut for the first time in 25 events at the season-opening Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January. The 2012 PGA Championship winner and 2011 US Open champion finished his first round at three- over and was (theoretically) still in with a chance of seeing some weekend action. Nike execs would have been wishing they’d played hardball on certain parts of the Northern Irishman’s contract, when he fronted up on Friday sans Nike putter and with his trusty Titleist Scotty Cameron in his bag. But even that didn’t help, as McIlroy bogeyed three of the first seven holes and continued to struggle pretty much the entire way from tee to green, eventually finishing 14 shots off leader Justin Rose after only two rounds. IT’S NOT LIKE HE wasn’t warned. Nick Faldo said it nicely, but the Englishman’s warning to McIlroy in the weeks before the McIlroy talked up the new equipment, lauding a new Nike driver that may now be the most expensive back scratcher in the history of personal massaging. Despite all the fanfare around his equipment change, McIlroy started poorly with his new Nike sticks. COVER the COVER the