GLENEAGLES, Scotland – At the 2004 Ryder Cup Phil Mickelson famously caused headlines when he switched to a new golf club brand just before the matches were played at Oakland Hills.
Rory McIlroy remembers that move well, although he was just 15 years old at the time.
“Phil Mickelson nearly hit me off the tee in 2004. I was standing down the left-hand side, so I'm very aware of what he did that week,” the world No. 1 said on Wednesday.
It’s noteworthy then that McIlroy is making an equipment move of his own for this week’s matches at Gleneagles. The Northern Irishman has been experimenting with a new Nike Golf driver since June and will officially put the new club in his bag when the Ryder Cup begins Friday. The red Covert model has been in his bag this year, but he's switching to the black Vapor model, which McIlroy told Golf Channel he is carrying eight yards farther in the air and moving the ball more easily in both directions.
“I wouldn't be putting it in the bag if I didn't feel it was better,” said McIlroy, who won two majors and a World Golf Championship primarily thanks to his prodigious driving.
European captain Paul McGinley said McIlroy told him he would probably be changing drivers this week and that he had no problem with the move.
“I'd never dream of giving a player a lesson or telling them what to do,” McGinley said. “They make their own decisions, they're top players and that's why they are here.”