Continued from page 1

He went to the Nike golf ball at a European Tour event in Germany in 2000, and then went on to win the next four majors. He didn’t go to the Nike driver until February 2002 at Pebble Beach, and then he won the first two majors that year (though he briefly went back to the Titleist driver in the summer).

Woods went to the Nike irons at a World Golf Championship in Ireland in 2002, one week before the Ryder Cup, which led to a memorable exchange. Asked why he would switch irons a week before such a big event like the Ryder Cup, Woods said to a reporter, “Off the record? Because the majors are over.” When asked for a comment on the record, Woods paused and said, “Because the majors are over.”

He won that WGC event and contributed 2 1/2 points in a losing cause at The Ryder Cup.

Woods went another year before adding Nike’s 56-degree wedge, and three weeks later he went to the lob wedge. The 3-wood was added at Doral in 2005 and the 5-wood came into play at the Tour Championship seven months later. The last change was the putter, first used at St. Andrews in 2010.

Before leaving Malaysia, Woods reflected on his process of change, noting the ball was the “huge switch” because he went from a wound ball to solid construction, which is the model everyone now uses. Yes, there are players whose game suffers after an equipment change. Woods was quick to point out guys like Ernie Els, who has won majors with three brands of equipment (Lynx, TaylorMade and Callaway).

Is it better to change slowly or all at once?

“Whatever is best for them,” he said. “It’s all dependent on what they want to accomplish and what do they feel like they can play their best in. Granted, I know sometimes the (financial) numbers may persuade it, but also some of the guys that I’ve known over the years have turned it down because they know that they can play better in certain equipment.”

Change for McIlroy comes at a crucial time in his burgeoning career. Along with new clubs, there will be more scrutiny.

And if success doesn’t come right away, Faldo said there could be doubt.

“It’s the feel and confidence of knowing that your equipment will perform how you want it to perform on Sunday afternoon,” Faldo said. “You can’t mess with that at such a young age.”