Sky Sports catches up with Rory McIlroy as he looks for better fortunes in 2014
Sky Sports talked to Rory McIlroy as he unveiled the new clubs he'll use to get back to the top in 2014.
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH
Last Updated: 02/12/13 2:38pm
McIlroy started the year as the World No 1 after topping the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic in 2012, claiming his second major and then joining Woods as a big-money signing for Nike - things could hardly have been going any better.
Then came a disappointing season - and inevitably the attention turned to the clubs in his bag as a major reason for the change in fortunes. Although it has indeed been a settling in period for McIlroy, he insists his game was the main problem, not the new set of clubs.
A rare freezing cold and wet day at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, more like Portrush than the Nevada desert, did not faze McIlroy as he faced a band of the world's media to talk though the new range of equipment he would be using in 2014 as he bids to get back to the very top of his game.
Nike paid a lot of money to get McIlroy in their famous swoosh, and despite the struggles there is a lot of positivity about his prospects for 2014, having seemingly found exactly what he is looking for in his clubs and ball for the new season.
"All I'd say is that if someone who knows the golf swing would've looked at mine at the start of the year and then looked at it now they'd see why I wasn't playing the way I wanted to," said McIlroy.
"It's nothing to do with the equipment, nothing to do with club change. At the end of the day if I swing well, I've got equipment that fits me. But I've got to swing well to make it go where I want it to go and that wasn't happening at the start of the year.
"I never lost confidence in the equipment - I lost a bit of confidence in myself after some bad tournaments and it takes time to build that back up
"It's very easy to say this is why and that is why you are struggling, but the only people who really know are those you're close to."
What was clear as McIlroy talked about his new Nike Covert 2.0 driver and RZN golf ball is that he has been fully involved in the process and, like many golfers these days, knows more and more about the in-depth technical details.
"The great thing is, is I've been a part of the whole process the entire way," he added. "That's what I really appreciate about Nike is the feedback they allow me to make on everything in my bag. I feel like my game is in a place where I want it to be, and I couldn't be happier with my current equipment.
"My clubs were one of the most talked about things in golf this season, but overall, I feel great. It's been a year where I've learned a lot."
Golfers these days test, test, and test again before even coming close to making a change, but McIlroy has switched his entire golf bag, and ball, so the learning curve had to be carried out on the course and in full public glare, but he insists he has learnt a lot.
"I haven't played how I've wanted to but I'm on the right track and excited about my game - I've got the goal of just finishing strongly and building some momentum for 2014," he added.
"I got down on myself at times, golf is a very fickle game, it can come and go you can hit it great one day and the next it's not there. I think the big thing for me now is patience, if you believe you're working on the right things then sooner or later it'll all come together.
"Sometimes I could do a better job of looking at the long term, if you view my career as an 18-hole golf course I'm probably only on the second or third hole, so I've got a long way to go and I've done pretty well so far."
Golf is a particularly mental sport, and McIlroy said that eve just the different sound of his new golf ball gives him more confidence, although it has also been performing well since he recently started using it in tournament play.
"A lot of golf is about feel, and it's strange to say but the new ball just sounded to me like I had more control of it and that in itself gives you more confidence right away, so for me that's been a huge thing so far."
In particular the way McIlroy has found the ball and driver combination of particular comfort, but in his irons he has been missing plenty of greens long, as he's found that he has even more yardage from his new set-up - a frightening thought for someone who already hits it a mile.
"I've gained about half a club with this new ball. So that has just taken a little bit of time to adjust to, as I found I was missing a lot of greens long," McIlroy noted.
"The larger face on the driver helps forgiveness on misses. When you're swinging a driver at 120 mph, you're not going to hit it out of the centre every time - or at least I'm not. Even if you look there are tee marks on my driver face that are more towards the toe and heel.
"My ball flight has also tightened up a bit, which makes you more confident so you can go after it a little more. That's been big for me, just having that confidence to go after it a little more and know that even if I don't put a good swing on it, it's still going to go in that general direction."