THERE HASN’T BEEN this much fuss about a club stage since Mo Johnston moved to Rangers.
Golf’s great and good are today weighing in on the issue of Rory McIlroy switching sponsors to Nike and with it the options in his caddy’s bag.
Francesco Molinari played down apparent fears about the Holywood man’s expected big-money deal with the American clothing giant after Nick Faldo called the plan “dangerous” for the world number one.
The Italian, who was McIlroy’s team-mate at the Ryder Cup and has been sponsored by Nike throughout his career, called it a “good match” and backed the Irish star to quickly adjust to new clubs and equipment.
“You never know until he does it but I think it’s a good match,” Molinari told AFP at the WGC-HSBC Champions at Mission Hills in southern China.
“I think Nike has got the equipment and the potential to make the switch as easy as possible for Rory, and I think Rory’s brand and Nike’s brand match well together.”
He added: “I think he’s going to be number one in the world for a while. I think it would be a good match.”
Molinari was speaking after Faldo urged McIlroy not to switch clubs. His agreement with Titleist will be allowed to lapse at the end of the year, fuelling speculation over a Nike deal which will reportedly earn him up to $250 million over 10 years.
“I call it dangerous,” Faldo, a six-time Major-winner, said on the Golf Channel. “I’ve changed clubs and changed equipment and every manufacturer will say ‘We can copy your clubs, we can tweak the golf ball so it fits you’.
“But there’s feel and sound as well and there’s confidence. You can’t put a real value on that — it’s priceless.”
Molinari, however, said 23-year-old McIlroy, already a double Major champion and one of sport’s most bankable stars, would take the changes in his stride if he joins the Nike stable.
“I think the stuff (equipment) is good enough. He obviously will need a little bit of time to get everything right but I think the Nike products at the moment are really good so I don’t think he will have any issue with that,” said Molinari.
- additional reporting AFP