Saturday 10 December 2016

McIlroy's club and country options come under scrutiny

Published 27/10/2016 | 02:30

Where McIlroy goes, the club golfer is sure to follow, but he’s not saying anything yet about who gets to provide his woods and irons. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Where McIlroy goes, the club golfer is sure to follow, but he’s not saying anything yet about who gets to provide his woods and irons. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Rory McIlroy's choice of equipment and his branding attracted attention before he teed off in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

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McIlroy's Nike sponsors recently announced they would no longer manufacture clubs, and speculation about likely replacement equipment heightened when McIlroy tried out a TaylorMade driver and fairway woods in practice at the Sheshan International course this week.

He was wearing his normal Nike cap, and was to debut new Nike shoes, the Lunar Control Vapor kicks, following a period of testing.

Where McIlroy goes, the club golfer is sure to follow, but he's not saying anything yet about who gets to provide his woods and irons.

At yesterday's press conference, the FedEx winner's choice for the Olympics found itself back on the agenda. "The participation in the Olympics, for me it's just a little more complicated than for some other people, (because of) where I'm from and the whole politics of the thing. It's a difficult subject for me," he said in response to a query.

Meanwhile, rookie professional Jack Hume made a fine start in his second Tour event, the Ras Al Khaimah 2016 Golf Challenge at Al Hamra GC in the UAE.

Hume, 22, recently joined the ISM management company which includes Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Danny Willett, and fellow Irishmen Kevin Phelan and Gavin Moynihan. The link enabled Hume to receive invitations to the Dunhill Links on the main Tour, and this week's Challenge Tour event.

Hume opened with 67, five-under par, at Al Hamra, leaving him two shots behind joint leaders Pontus Widegren (Sweden), and Max Orrin of England. Northern Ireland's Chris Selfridge carded a 69. Gary Hurley (73) and Cormac Sharvin (74) need improvement.

This tournament is the second last of the Challenge Tour season, and the aim is to gain a place in the top 45 who contest the NBO Golf Classic Final in Oman next week.

Following that, the top 16 earn coveted full European Tour cards. If 57th-ranked Selfridge does not get into the top 45 after this week, he'll join Hume, Hurley and Sharvin in the second stage of Tour School in Spain on November 4.

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