'I could use hockey sticks and an orange': Rory McIlroy switches clubs

World No 1 plays down fears that change to Nike from Titleist will affect his game

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rory McIlroy has no fears over ditching the clubs that made him world No 1. The Northern Irishman, who topped the money list on both sides of the Atlantic in 2012, heads into this weekend's Dubai World Championship playing with Titleist clubs for the last time before he switches to Nike.

Althought the deal will be financially lucrative for McIlroy - it is reported the deal will be worth over £150m over 10 years - some, including a certain Nick Faldo, have expressed reservations over whether switching clubs will be good for his game. But when the question was put to the player, his reply was emphatic: "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. A hockey stick and an orange serves me all right"

McIlroy will be presented with his European Tour Order of Merit trophy and a cheque for £629,000 before he tees off tomorrow. But he has more of an eye on finishing on a high than any financial matters. But as far as money is concerned, there is the prospect of knocking Tiger Woods off the top of the list of all-time money-earners in a single season. Woods earned $11,557,729 (£7.26m) in prize-money in 2007. If McIlroy wins in Dubai, the £1m cheque will put him almost £250,000 ahead of the American.

"I would like to pick up two trophies at the end of the week," said McIlroy. "Obviously you have to stay right until the end, so I might as well make it matter.

"I really want to play well this week, finish this season on a high. There's been a lot of high points this year and it would be great to finish on one as well. Winning, trying to be the best player that I can be, trying to win majors – that's the real goal for me."

McIlroy won one major this year and the inevitable question concerns how many more he can win – and whether he can reach Jack Nicklaus's 18, or however many Woods ends his career with.

But McIlroy said: "I've always said I'm never going to put a number on it. I don't want to do that. I just want to get my third and when I get my third I want to try to get my fourth. Obviously I'm halfway to the career Grand Slam, so that's probably the next obvious goal for me."

McIlroy clinched the Order of Merit money title after finishing third at the Singapore Open, becoming the second golfer – after Luke Donald – to win the US and European money titles in the same season. The week leading up to the season-ending tournament is lacking the usual drama for the first time since the Race to Dubai was rolled out in 2009 because McIlroy wrapped up the money title so early.

But Donald believes that although the way his Ryder Cup team-mate sealed both titles well before the end of the season means the format could warrant a change, McIlroy's feats makes his own money list double victory in 2011 pale into insignificance.

"Twelve months ago I came here with a lot of pressure trying to win the Race to Dubai and with Rory right on my tail and with a lot more excitement surrounding the final event," Donald said. "But this time around Rory's already wrapped up the title. The European 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.

"What Rory's done this year has made what I did last year seem pretty ordinary."

McIlroy is not a fan of changing the European Tour format to match that of the US, perhaps unsurprisingly as he played well during the three-tournament play-off system which whittles the field down to 30 for the FedEx Cup, but could do no better than tie for 10th place in the season finale, with Brandt Snedeker taking the $10m first prize.

"The format's good – it's a season-long race," McIlroy said. "I played well during the FedEx Cup playoffs this year on the PGA Tour and felt a little hard done by, playing so well and not being able to win that."

Moneybags McIlroy: Rory on top

Victory for Rory McIlroy in Dubai this weekend will see him break Tiger Woods's record for prize money won in a calendar year.

The £1m McIlroy stands to receive would take his total to £250,000 more than the £7.26m ($11.6m) amassed by Woods in 2007.