(Eds: With AP Photos.) By DOUG FERGUSON AP Golf Writer Rory McIlroy's decision to pursue a lucrative equipment deal was in place long before he grabbed a Nike golf club from Tiger Woods during their exhibition match in China and took a few practice swings.
Changing equipment was inevitable. Boy Wonder is simply too big now.
The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland is no longer a U.S. Open champion with a massive upside. He fulfilled a big chunk of that potential this year with four wins, including an eight-shot win at the PGA Championship and back-to-back wins in the FedEx Cup playoffs against two of the strongest fields of the year. He is a lock for PGA Tour player of the year and the Vardon Trophy, all the awards Woods used to win.
McIlroy is a marketing dream, which made him worth too much to stay with Titleist.
Acushnet, the parent company, has a history of promoting its brand through numbers instead of a name. That's why it didn't stand in the way when Woods switched to the Sw...