ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Rory McIlroy admits he was "very disappointed" after his first tournament with Nike clubs ended in failure, and spent the weekend in Abu Dhabi working with his swing coach, Michael Bannon.
Having already felt the need to temporarily return to one of his old putters, the world No. 1's 2013 debut could hardly have gone much worse – for him or the company that is paying him a fortune.
ABU DHABI HSBC GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP
McIlroy missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship by four shots, two rounds of 75 leaving him tied for 98th in a field of 126. Only once since 2008 has the 23-year-old finished lower than that in a non-major European Tour event.
McIlroy can only hope for better when he next plays, but that is not until Feb. 20 – and since it is the WGC-Accenture Accenture Match Play, there is no guarantee he will be there more than one day.
"It's very disappointing," he said. "You really want to get off to a nice start at the start of the season, but I've got to realize that it is only the start. As long as I feel like my game is in good shape heading into Augusta (the Masters starts April 11) that's all I'm worried about."
On his putter switch after the first round, he explained that he needed something to help him deal with the slower greens he found in Abu Dhabi.
"I just felt like the greens I've been practicing on are a lot faster than these," he said. "The Nike putter is great on that, but getting to here it's just a weight issue more than anything else."
McIlroy thought the week might not be his best because of all the off-course commitments, including his big debut ceremony with Nike on Monday.
"I knew it was going to be a tough week with everything going on," he explained. "I was just looking forward to getting to the golf course and getting back to what I do and what I'm comfortable with.
"It just didn't work out like that," he added. "I hit the ball really well last week in practice in Dubai and just sort of gradually got worse this week for some reason. I've got a few weeks off now to work at it and try and get my game in decent shape for the US."