Rory McIlroy is the defending champion at this week's Honda Classic, but he will need to become familiar with being defensive, because it is looking like he will have to defend most of his actions in 2013.
McIlroy has had a disappointing start to the year and making the switch to a Nike set complicates the tone for the rest of 2013.
Making a single club change provides a set of challenges for golfer. Replacing every club and ball in your bag on the professional level does not go unnoticed, especially when a player announces the equipment change during a theatrical production that would rival a rock concert.
Now that McIlroy has made this drastic change and made it so publically, scrutiny will follow him everywhere.
The scrutiny met up with McIlroy when he missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. It followed him after he then went on to lose his opening round last week at the WGC Accenture Match Play Championship.
But equipment changes are not the only issues McIlroy is facing.
As McIlroy's popularity and sponsorship responsibilities grow, questions about his focus are bound to surface.
Are there too many distractions on and off the course for him? Time will tell.
How does McIlroy feel he is playing? After his loss in Arizona, McIlroy told The Guardian:
Rory McIlroy meets with the media at the 2013 Honda Classic
"I'm hitting the ball so much better off the tee, which is a positive. I'm also more comfortable around the greens. It shouldn't be a lot of work that I have to do, I just have to go to the range and have a look at it."
McIlroy may still be getting used to his new clubs but regaining some form of consistency will help quiet the whispers. Winning a tournament would help his cause even more, and winning a major would subdue most of the questions completely.
McIlroy realizes he has picked up some bad swing habits this year and is working with his long-time coach Michael Bannon on eliminating those habits.
McIlroy met with the media Tuesday morning during his press conference at The Honda Classic. He was very open about what the faults in his swing are and what he is working on to correct those problems.
McIlroy will continue to field questions about the equipment changes he has made at every tournament he participates.
It is still early in the season, but McIlroy will have to produce a win sooner rather than later if he does not want scrutiny to be his playing partner for the rest of 2013.