Nick Faldo warned Rory McIlroy even before the two-time major champion so publicly switched golf equipment to start the 2013 season that throwing Titleist over for Nike was a bad idea. The Hall of Famer-turned pundit, who’s training for a return to competitive golf at this month’s British Open when he’ll be 56, reiterated his prophetic warning Tuesday.
“Rory very simply messed with a winning formula,” Faldo told reporters from The Old White TPC, site of this week’s Greenbrier Classic. “He had an equipment company [with which] he went from rookie of the year to world No. 1 and...thought he could start again. As I said from Day One, I tweeted right away when it was announced, this is a dangerous move.”
McIlroy, as even casual golf fans probably know, has had a miserable year since Nike staged that ridiculously glitzy coming-out party anointing the then-top-ranked player the next Tiger Woods at the cash register. Since switching from Titleist to start the year, McIlroy, who recorded his fourth worldwide missed cut at last week’s Irish Open, has scrambled mightily just to stay on the course.
Things had bottomed out so much for McIlroy that Paul Casey was moved to defend Nike after Rory's European Tour and Nike stablemate won the Irish Open on Sunday.
"You know, it really frustrates me when I read negative press about Nike and their equipment. They are a legitimate golf brand, legitimate golf company, and sure, people don't necessarily see what I see behind the scenes with the R&D and the personnel that are making fantastic golf products," Casey told reporters. "It's right up there, I would put sort of three or four other manufacturers up there in the same ballpark.
"But it is not inferior in any way," Casey stated, "and this is just something that [McIlroy's] just trying to get right. I have confidence that he will."
Count Faldo as one observer not so sure about that and certainly not surprised by the downturn in McIlroy’s career.
“People said...he can adapt,” Faldo pointed out. “Why should the world No. 1 be adapting to something new? As we’ve discovered, six months later, he’s still trying putters, still trying drivers. It’s not as easy.
“I was trying to express that we get a millisecond of feel and that’s [at] impact,” Faldo added. “If it’s going great, it builds confidence and if it’s suddenly something different to what you’ve been doing, or thinking you’re going to do, that hurts your confidence.
“I hope he hasn’t gone too far that it’s damaged his confidence,” Faldo opined.
Sir Nick is not averse to sharing his controversial views. Just last week the owner of six major championships questioned the mental state of Tiger Woods. Oddly, he fielded no questions about that assertion on Tuesday.