Rory McIlroy reveals the decision behind his recent equipment shakeup
Rory McIlroy’s connection to TaylorMade dates back to 2017, when he signed a lucrative multi-year equipment deal with the brand. At the agreement’s inception, McIlroy was required to play a full bag of TaylorMade clubs, including the golf ball. The extension McIlroy signed last year with TaylorMade featured similar language regarding his club and ball requirements.
McIlroy remains a TaylorMade staffer — and arguably its most important — for 2023, but the language surrounding his club requirements has changed. According to the four-time major winner, his latest re-up with TaylorMade offers some room to use clubs from other brands.
The most recent additions? Two Titleist Vokey wedges (SM9 54-10S and WedgeWorks 58.06K) that made the cut in Dubai for McIlroy’s first start of the year.
“This is my first year of my new deal with TaylorMade, and they gave me just a little bit of flexibility with some of the clubs that I can play,” McIlroy said on Wednesday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. “So that was really it. I was messing around with Justin [Thomas’ wedges] — I see Justin Thomas all the time at home and messing around with some of his wedges and some of the grinds he has. I got in touch and ordered a couple, and they’ve worked really nicely.”
McIlroy didn’t comment on how much flexibility his new deal offers, but it’s likely 2-3 clubs in the bag, which is similar to many of his peers. In recent years, equipment manufacturers have become more willing to let players use a couple of clubs from competitors, provided the large majority of their setup remains with the brand cutting the checks.
McIlroy actually isn’t the only TaylorMade staffer with gear flexibility. Scottie Scheffler, Tommy Fleetwood and Tiger Woods all have at least one non-TaylorMade club in the bag. (Collin Morikawa is playing 14 TaylorMade clubs at the moment.)
While the Vokey wedges are the only non-TaylorMade clubs in McIlroy’s setup, he confirmed one other change for Phoenix — a return to TaylorMade’s P760 long irons that provide additional launch to help him attack par 5s.
“I feel by going back to that [TaylorMade P760] long iron in the 3- and the 4-iron, just to give me a bit more extra flight into the par-5s,” he said. “I feel like sometimes with the 3- and the 4-iron in the blades they can come in a little flat at times, where the par-5 and the second shots into the par-5s specifically this week are very, very important, so I thought having a little bit more flight on those long irons could be helpful.”
In addition to fitting the layout at TPC Scottsdale, McIlroy noted the P760 has a more compact look he prefers at address.
“It’s a little bit of a shorter blade length,” he said. “Sometimes the newer models, whether it be the 770 or the 790, it’s a bit of a longer blade length, and I feel like the toe just wants to close over on me a little. Instead of having to mess around with weighting or different shafts or anything, I’ve played those 760s before, and they’ve worked really well. It was just an easy transition.”
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