Rory McIlroy, who bombed out of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship on Friday after the second of two straight 75s, reiterated it was not his new Nike clubs that caused him to miss the cut in his first event of the new year.
Continuing poor play in McIlroy’s season-opening tournament forced the world No. 1 to defend the gear he so publicly switched to after employing Titleist clubs and balls for the first five years of his professional career. For the second consecutive day, he insisted he, and not Nike, was to blame for his hacker-like performance on an Abu Dhabi Golf Course where he finished second in 2012.
"All aspects of my game were off," McIlroy told Sky Sports after the abrupt finish to his work week. "I didn't drive the ball well, my iron play wasn't anywhere near the standard it usually is for me. I'm struggling with my swing a little bit, I feel like I'm spinning out of a lot and hitting it out of the heel quite a lot and I just need to put in a bit of work on the range.
"It's the first week out, I wouldn't look too much into that [the change of equipment]. If anything, it's more the Indian than the arrow at this point."
McIlroy mounted his one-man publicity campaign in support of the multimillion-dollar contract he announced with such fanfare on Monday.
While claiming that his switch back to a Scotty Cameron putter after only 18 holes with a Nike Method was no big deal, and praising his irons, ball, and wedges, McIlroy did sound concerned about the big dog, Nike’s new Covert driver, with which he found only 12 of 28 fairways in two rounds.
"I just need to find a driver I feel comfortable with because I didn't drive the ball at all well and I feel like that's normally a big advantage for me,” said the golfer whose accuracy off the tee has not necessarily been a strong suit (he ranked 155th on tour in 2012).
Unless McIlroy adds another tournament to his scanty early-season calendar, he will have four weeks off from competitive play to find a way to make all the tools in his bag perform as advertised.