5 Ways Rory McIlroy's Shift to Nike Will Impact His Game

Mike DudurichContributor IJanuary 17, 2013

5 Ways Rory McIlroy's Shift to Nike Will Impact His Game

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    Much has been made about Rory McIlroy, the No. 1 player in the world, and his switch in equipment from Titleist to Nike. He had a spectacular 2012, and switching clubs after such a year has been debated around the world.

    It will take some time to determine just how successful and/or wise that move was, but all the evidence seems to indicate it won't be a major issue.

    Here are five ways his game might be affected by his becoming a member of Team Nike.

What? Me Worry?

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    Rory McIlroy is fearless, and he has no reason to fear the transition from Titleist to Nike.

    He’s shown that on the golf course. Remember him hitting the tree root in the first round of the PGA Championship in 2011 and injuring his wrist?

    That’s why he’s used hours of hard work and practice to cut down those transition fears.

    Via USA Today: "I've been testing all the way through Christmas. I've been practicing hard in the offseason. This equipment change has been seamless, he said. I think I can take my game to another level."

Technology Will Be His Friend

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    When famous equipment-change failures like Payne Stewart, Corey Pavin, Lee Janzen and Nick Price made their switches, the clubmaking process was more of an art than a science.

    Today, there are few manufacturing processes more precise than clubmaking. That’s why the margin for error and the transition time from one manufacturer to another has become less and less.

    In his response to questions about his concerns about how he’ll play with the new sticks, via PGA.com, McIlroy said, "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."

Really, Even Longer?

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    Nike’s new red Covert driver has been a smash hit, no pun intended.

    Last year, his ball speed averaged 178.078 miles per hour, eighth best on the PGA Tour. Early indications are he’ll be moving on up in that category this year.

    Via USA Today:

    The driver (Nike VR_S Covert) is awesome, he said earlier this week.

    I’m really excited about Nike equipment. I was blown away with the technology. As soon as I hit the driver, I knew it was in my bag straight away. With the driver, I’ve picked up, you know, on average, two or three miles an hour more ball speed. Sometimes, if I go after one I can get it up into the 180s, which I was never really able to do before. That’s been a big help.

How About the Ball?

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    While McIlroy will be using all new equipment, from putter through driver, his irons will be the same blade-style irons, and the shafts in his clubs will be the same as the ones he used at Titleist.

    The biggest question about the switch may be in terms of golf balls.

    There are several high quality golf balls on the market; although, Titleist is acknowledged as the leader. But each manufacturer’s ball is slightly different—trajectories, how the ball reacts and grabs once it hits the green, even distance control.

    It will be interesting to see how the 20XI ball performs for McIlroy when the heat is on.

He’s Doing It His Way

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    Rory McIlroy could have followed in the footsteps of his famous Nike stablemate, Tiger Woods, in how he transitioned to the new clubs.

    But unlike Woods, who incorporated the new clubs bit-by-bit over a period of time, McIlroy is all in.

    He had 14 Nike clubs in his bag and, just for the record, swears Woods had nothing to do with any involving the switch.

    “I didn’t speak about it to Tiger,” he said (via tampabay.com). “We didn’t talk about it at all until after it was all done.”