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Faldo: McIlroy 'messed with winning formula'

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Nick Faldo doesn’t want to say he told you so, but when it comes to Rory McIlroy’s highly scrutinized equipment switch … well, he told you so.

For now. 

It was way back in October when the six-time major winner and current Golf Channel analyst warned that McIlroy should stick with the clubs that he knew best, that helped fuel his rise. “You can’t mess with that at such a young age,” he said at the time.

Well, McIlroy hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons in 2013, and in a sense, Sir Nick feels vindicated. 

“Rory very simply messed with a winning formula,” Faldo told reporters this week at the Greenbrier Classic. “He went from rookie of the year to world No. 1 and has been through a lot and thought he could start again. 

“As I said from Day 1, I tweeted right away when it was announced that this was a dangerous move. People said, ‘Oh, he’s so talented, he can adapt.’ Well, why should the world No. 1 be adapting to something new? As we discovered six months later, he’s busy still trying putters, still trying drivers. It’s not as easy.” 

Indeed, it has been a transition year for McIlroy, 24, who last year was Player of the Year on both sides of the pond and won five worldwide titles.

Since his switch to Nike at the end of last year, McIlroy has missed three cuts, withdrawn once, finished inside the top 10 just three times and watched as Tiger Woods sped by at the top of the world rankings. The Northern Irishman hasn’t been in serious contention at either of the year’s first two majors either, resulting in a T-25 and T-41 at the Masters and U.S. Open, respectively. Just last week, after a missed cut at The Irish Open, he said that he was still working with Nike’s equipment team to find the perfect driver and putter. 

What plagues the world No. 2 now? Faldo thinks it’s confidence.

“We get a millisecond of feel at impact and if it’s going great, it builds confidence; if it’s suddenly something different to what you’ve been doing or thinking you’re going to do, that hurts your confidence,” he told reporters. “So I hope he hasn’t gone too far, but it’s damaged his confidence.”