Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

McIlroy keen to carry on winning

Rory McIlroy is a two-time major winner

Rory McIlroy admits he will be disappointed if he does not add to his collection of major titles this season as he prepares to put his new, and rather expensive equipment, to the test in Abu Dhabi.

The worst-kept secret in golf was finally revealed on Monday when McIlroy signed a multi-year, multi-million pound sponsorship deal with Nike. Concern has been expressed by the likes of six-time major winner Nick Faldo about the effect changing equipment - most notably clubs and balls - will have on McIlroy's career, but the world number one has set himself the goal of at least one major title in 2013.

"I don't play golf for the money, I am well past that," McIlroy told a press conference in Abu Dhabi, where he will contest this week's HSBC Championship against a field including the other leading golf name in Nike colours, 14-major winner and world number two Tiger Woods.

"I'm a major champion and world number one, which I have always dreamed of being, and feel this is a company that can help me sustain that and win even more major titles. At the end of 2013, if I have not won another major I will be disappointed."

Cindy Davis, president of Nike Golf, refused to discuss details of McIlroy's contract - reported to be up to 10 years and worth £156million - including whether there were any "behaviour" clauses given previous problems with Nike athletes Woods and Lance Armstrong.

But she added: "Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere.

"He is the epitome of a Nike athlete and he is joining our team during the most exciting time in Nike Golf's history. We are looking forward to partnering with him to take his remarkable career to the next level."

McIlroy already has two major titles to his name, winning both the 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA Championship by eight shots. The first of those wins came just two months after he led by four shots with a round to play at the US Masters, only to crash to a closing 80 at Augusta to finish 15th, 10 shots behind winner Charl Schwartzel.

At just 22 he was the youngest winner of the US Open since Bobby Jones in 1923 and a superstar was born.

"If you are going to talk about someone challenging the record of Jack Nicklaus there's your man," said Padraig Harrington, referring to the Golden Bear's 18 majors. "At his age he's probably got 100 more majors where he could be competitive. It would give him a great chance."

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