Rory McIlroy, the No. 2-ranked player in the World, begins the new year having not yet decided on what clubs he will play but insists the player rather than the equipment is more important.
The Northern Irishman is among a number of top stars who have been forced into a change following Nike’s withdrawal from the club manufacturing market.
McIlroy has been testing a number of options and will start this week’s BMW SA Open with Callaway woods and irons, Titleist wedges and balls and a Scotty Cameron putter.
He has been here before, however. In 2013 he struggled for form immediately after changing clubs as part of signing a multi-million pound deal with Nike.
However, the four-time major winner said his set-up could change on a regular basis until he settles on a favorite combination.
“They are picked for this week but that could change week to week,” he told a press conference.
“This is my first event with those clubs so we will see how it goes this week.
“You never really know until you have a card in your hand and at the end of the day the person swinging the club is more important than the club itself.”
McIlroy is playing for the first time since finishing ninth at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and even on his arrival in South Africa he chose to spend four days on safari before heading to the tournament, hosted by Ernie Els, at Glendower Golf Club in Gauteng.
However, he brushed aside suggestions — considering his equipment issues — he was under-prepared.
McIlroy will point to recent history — he has finished in the top five in his first outing of the new year in the last eight years apart from 2013 — as justification of his methods. “I spent a week in Dubai before Christmas testing a lot of equipment and hitting a lot of balls and training,” he added.
“I had a week off from December 20 to 27 and then went back to Dubai and worked solid for 10 days till I came down here.
“I have been practicing in the Middle East for the past week or so, although I have spent the last few days here on safari so hadn’t hit a ball for four days.
“I am in competitive mode but we also wanted to go into the bush for a few days which might have made me a little rusty but I can shake that off before Thursday.
“The first couple of holes [of his practice round] weren’t great but once I got into my rhythm it was okay.
“I am here to play well and get my confidence up.”