Wu/Getty ImagesRory McIlroy and Tiger Woods played together earlier this month in China.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Like most things Rory McIlroy will experience in golf, Tiger Woods can certainly relate. That includes changing equipment at the height of his career.
Last month, McIlroy announced he and Titleist were parting ways at the end of this year. It’s long been speculated that McIlroy will sign with Nike alongside Woods. (A Nike spokesman said last month the company will not comment on rumors.)
Woods of course made the move successfully, moving from Titleist to Nike, beginning with the golf ball in 2000 and golf clubs two years later. As history has shown, however, not everyone has been as fortunate.
“Any time you make a change in equipment, it’s certainly a big deal,” Woods said Tuesday from the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual. “Going through the testing process, trying to get the right shaft, and the club head, plus the ball, it’s a challenge.”
Unlike Woods, it appears McIlroy, who is not in the field here, will endure that challenge all at once.
How long did it take for Woods to adjust?
“Sometimes it’s taken almost a year, sometimes it’s taken just a few weeks,” Woods said. “Is this equipment in general, is this going to help me win golf tournaments? If the answer is yes, then it’s in the bag. If the answer is no, then it’s not.”
It’s of course a careful balance. For Woods, it helped not to make wholesale changes all at once.
“But when you get it right,” Woods said. “It’s pretty good.”
If not, it can be another story.
The late Payne Stewart suffered a season-long slump in 1994 after leaving Wilson for a lucrative deal with Spalding.
In Woods’ case, he didn’t skip a beat. When he switched golf balls in 2000 Woods went on to win nine times on the PGA TOUR, including the final three majors that season.
“It’s a huge process to get to that point,” Woods noted. “It was very time consuming. It’s tiring quite frankly because it can take a long time, but it’s worth it in the end if you get it right.”