The rumour mill was set abuzz by the sight of Rory McIlroy practising with all-TaylorMade clubs this week in the build-up to the Players Championship.
Yesterday, those rumours came to fruition, as the Northern Irishman confirmed that he has signed a multi-year contract with the premier equipment brand.
The deal is reportedly worth $100 million over a 10-year period, which, coupled with the recent extension to his Nike apparel deal ($200 million, also over a decade), means McIlroy is swimming in the riches of some hefty endorsement gains.
In terms of fairway woods, he has, as expected, gone with the artillery he sported at the Masters, with 2017 M2 three and five woods (Mitsubishi Tensei and Fujikura Pro shafts respectively).
“I’ve been on tour for 10 years and I can’t remember a time I’ve been this excited about my equipment,” McIlroy told Golf Digest on Tuesday. “You get re-energized. You look at the guys that are playing this stuff and you’ve got Dustin [Johnson] who is No. 1 in the world, I’m No. 2, Jason Day No. 3. Sergio, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose. Everyone is playing well with it, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
While the woods are all effectively stock editions, the recently-turned 28-year old has gone custom with the irons, revealing his “Rors Prototype” muscleback blades (with True Temper Project X 7.0 shafts), which were made exclusively for him. These irons are both thinner, and have less offset than the Callaways which have been in the bag recently.
He will also be using the TaylorMade TP5x golf ball, which he claimed is “the best ball he has ever hit”, thanks in large part to a lack of spin.
“I was hitting balls with DJ a few weeks ago and he said, ‘Let me see those irons,’ and he was on the phone right away asking for a set,” McIlroy said. “They’re a beautiful set. I’ve traditionally been a muscleback blade guy my whole career.
“One thing I’m doing with my irons that I’ve never really done before is that I’m putting the P750 3 and 4-iron in, so I’m using a split set. The numbers I’m getting with them are incredible. They’re launching so high and I’m pitching the 4-iron 235 yards and the 3-iron 250 yards. The launch angle is high and still getting plenty of spin – 3,500 with the 3-iron and 4,000 with the 4-iron – so it’s staying up there, but it’s going a long way and coming down to where it holds the green. So it’s exciting to have that for par 5s.”
The end of a long search
Of course, McIlroy’s struggles in 2013 were largely attributed to his switch to Nike equipment at the time, which some felt was an impulsive decision. He certainly can’t be accused of such such haste again, and we recently wrote about his extensive experimentation with various brands since Nike’s acrimonious departure from the equipment business last August.
But, having married fiancée Erica Stoll a couple of weeks subsequent to the Masters, it would seem that a settled personal life has finally persuaded McIlroy to make a commitment to the tools of his trade.
“It’s very rare that you really get excited about your equipment, but I am,” McIlroy added. “It seems like everything is very settled. If you feel like that off the golf course, I can only imagine it will help you on it.”
Whatever the connection between off and on-course matters, McIlroy will no doubt be relieved to have put this long-running equipment saga behind him, and, as he joins five other members of the world’s top 12-ranked players flying the TaylorMade flag, I think we can safely assume that his focus will now shift squarely onto getting the job done in the big events – starting this week at TPC Sawgrass.