Rory McIlroy targets No1 spot after £80m Taylor Made deal
Rory McIlroy has targeted a return to world number one after signing a new deal with Taylor Made golf equipment manufacturers, worth an estimated £80m.
There was much fanfare in January 2013 when the Ulsterman - then the top-ranked player on the planet - signed a multi-year deal with Nike, reportedly worth up to £156million.
He failed to win a European Tour or PGA event in the 2013 season, however, with some commentators citing his problems adjusting to his new clubs as a major factor for a slump in performance that saw him drop outside of the world's top 10.
A stunning return to form was to follow as he won the Open Championship and US PGA Championship in 2014 but he was left looking for new clubs again in August 2016 when Nike announced they would stop making equipment.
The recently-married 28-year-old began the year at the BMW SA Open with Callaway woods and irons, Titleist wedges and balls and a Scotty Cameron putter but continued testing as he struggled in particular with his golf ball.
The world number two has now decided to use Taylor Made for all his equipment, including his ball, and is hopeful that he can displace American Dustin Johnson and once again officially become the world's leading player.
“I’m really excited that I’ve teamed up with Taylor Made,” McIlroy told a press conference ahead of the Players Championship which starts tomorrow in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
“I needed to address a few issues after Augusta. I alluded to the fact that I wasn’t really happy with the golf ball I was playing and I needed to do something and I feel like I struggled in the wind.
“I sort of went back to the drawing board and tested for about 10 days pretty extensively after Augusta.
“I worked with a lot of different things but I worked with the Taylor Made guys and started with one Trackman (ball tracking device) on the range and saw stuff with the golf ball and I thought, ‘wow, this is what I need, this is exactly the thing that I’ve been struggling with’.
“Over the course of the next few days I tested different combinations, a lot of different stuff, and I came to the conclusion that that was the best way forward for me to try and improve, try and win more, try to get back to world number one, try to win more majors, so I’m really excited about that.
“I’ve been on tour for 10 years. It’s very rare that you get excited about your equipment but I am.
“I feel like it’s a new chapter in my life with a lot of stuff going on, but I really feel with the new equipment as well, it’s hopefully going to take me to that next level.”
McIlroy has been paired for the first two rounds with world number one Johnson, who is on a high after finishing second at the Wells Fargo Championship last weekend, and world number 10 Justin Thomas.