Club change is affecting form, admits McIlroy

WORLD No1 golfer Rory McIlroy admits he is still struggling to find his rhythm since signing a reported £150m, 10-year deal with Nike last month to use new clubs.

The Northern Irishman has endured an uncharacteristically poor start to the season. He lost in the first round of last week’s WGC Match Play tournament to Shane Lowry and also missed the cut by four shots at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January.

And, with the first Major championship of the year, the Masters, to come at Augusta in April, McIlroy concedes he is still experiencing teething problems with his new equipment.

“It’s still an adjustment period,” he said. “It is more about how I’m swinging the club. That’s the real concern.

“I would like to get back to where I was, say, the middle of last year, because if you put my swing now up against the way I was swinging it last year, it’s chalk and cheese.

“The biggest thing was finding a driver that suited me and I feel like I’ve got one now that really works. I just need tournament rounds to get that confidence in it.”

McIlroy, a two-time Major winner, will bid to defend his Honda Classic title at Palm Beach Gardens this week, hoping to also silence the doubters of his game since adding the new clubs to his bag.

“I knew there were going to be comments made if it didn’t happen for me right away,” acknowledged McIlroy, who signed a multi-year deal to become global brand ambassador for electronics brand Bose this week.

“I’m only two tournaments into the season, I’ve got 20 to go, so it’s not like I’m in any rush or pushing for answers. Everything is there it’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

Victory in Florida would make the 23-year-old the first player to win the event back-to-back since Jack Nicklaus did so in 1977 and 1978.

And McIlroy is anticipating favourable playing conditions at the course situated just eight miles from his recently-acquired American home.

“This week always depends on the conditions,” he added.

“It can get quite windy and the course can play firm, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that way this week.”