• "It's given me freedom to see what else is out there"
• Four-time major winner has a TaylorMade M2 in play this week
Rory McIlroy has admitted that Nike Golf’s decision to shut down its equipment manufacturing arm was both ‘good and bad’.
The sportswear giant announced in August that it was exiting the club-making industry with the intention to, instead, ‘accelerate innovation’ in golf footwear and apparel.
Read more -> Nike Golf: Why it collapsed
One of the many consequences of that move was that it left its roster of staff professionals in limbo and without any tour support.
One of those, of course, was McIlroy, who signed a lucrative multi-year endorsement deal with Nike in January 2013.
The four-time major winner had continued to use almost a full complement of Nike clubs since the announcement, during which time he won twice on the PGA Tour and finished atop the standings of the season-long FedEx Cup battle.
"It's given me a little bit of freedom to see what else is out there" - Rory McIlroy
Until this week, the only significant change in his bag since news of Nikes intentions broke almost three months ago was his decision to go back to his old Scotty Cameron putter, above.
Read more -> Rory McIlroy 'inundated' with new clubs
However, the Northern Irishman has a TaylorMade M2 driver in the bag in China for this week’s WGC-HSBC Champions event, where he admitted that the Nike news had allowed him to experiment with other brands’ products.
“I felt bad for a lot of the employees that put so much time and effort into building really good golf clubs,” said McIlroy. “They really were. I've had a lot of success with the clubs that I've played with Nike. So I felt bad in one way.
“But in another, it's given me a little bit of freedom to see what else is out there. I'm trying out a couple of things this week. It definitely doesn't mean that it's permanent but it gives me the freedom to go at the end of the year and try some stuff out and be in the position where I can use whatever in my golf bag that fits me 100% the best.”
Rory McIlroy: Expectations for 2017?
After a strong second half to 2017, and now with the freedom to play the equipment that he wants rather than that he is contractually obliged to use, what do you expect from Rory McIlroy in 2017? A return to world No.1? Completion of the career 'grand slam' at the Masters? Leave your thoughts in our 'Comments' section below.